Posts Tagged ‘Lenten transformation’

2 Maccabees 12:38-46: Battle – Part VI

Ernest William Tristram: Reconstruction of Medieval Mural Painting, Battle of Judas Maccabeus with Timotheus and the Fall of Maspha – Parliamentary Art Collection, UK

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018

It is the endurance of the Maccabees we seek through our intense hope in the promises of God.  It is the fidelity of the Maccabees we seek through our deep faith in the goodness of God.  It is the devotion of the Maccabees we seek through our passionate love for the ways of God. 

We engage in battle with the world; we struggle with circumstances beyond our control. We look for peace where there is only strife. Anxiety builds as we look for serenity; and fear overtakes us too often. When we examine our journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter, we know that we cannot escape our battles. When we remember the story of the Maccabeus family, we also know that it is our battles that transform us. And so we continue to search.

The way of the Seeker has been demonstrated to us by Christ for if God so loved the world that he sent his only son (John 3:16), and if this son dies in expiation for the sins of all, how can we not forgive all and ask to be forgiven in all?  How can we not enter into this sacrifice and petition to God to redeem all those who have fallen away? How can we refuse to move forward trusting in God and exercising compassion for ourselves and others?

In our Lenten journey as we anticipate the promise of Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of the dead, we find ourselves called to the sheepfold by the love of the Great Shepherd.  If we seek to know this shepherd most intimately, we will imitate Christ in all ways possible, and we will offer all that we suffer for the saving of those who struggle to enter the fold. And so we pray.

Good and strong and gentle God, entering into Christ’s sacrifice with our fellow seekers, we offer our pain willingly.  We lift joyful hearts and songs of praise because by the mercy and surrender of Christ, we are released from the fear and pain that enslaves us.  We ask that our hearts of stone be made warm by the Holy Spirit’s love, that our necks stiffened in pride be made humble in God’s mercy, and that our straying from the sheepfold be redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice. Amen.    

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 25, 2009.

Find image at http://www.artuk.org/artworks/reconstruction-of-medieval-mural-painting-battle-of-judas-maccabeus-with-timotheus-and-the-fall-of-maspha-214242

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Saturday, March 3, 21012 – Mark 1:21-45 – Self-Awareness

The synagogue in Capernaum: where Jesus healed many

“The account of a single day’s ministry of Jesus on a sabbath in and outside the synagogue of Capernaum (21-31) combines teaching and miracles of exorcism and healing.  Mention is not made of the content of the teaching but on the effect of astonishment and alarm on the people.  Jesus’ teaching with authority, making an absolute claim on the hearer, was in the best tradition of the ancient prophets, not of the scribes”.  (Senior 69 cf. 1, 21-45)

I am thinking of these two words that appear in opposition to one another: astonishment and alarm.

Jesus comes to each of each day; but in this season of Lent he comes to us in a special way.  He urges us to come away from the temptation to be discouraged with our constant slipping into separation from him.  We are to not regard these times as failures, but rather as opportunities to be healed.  In a continual cycle of forgetting, regretting followed by an epiphany of self-awareness, we draw ever closer to the compassionate mercy with which we are loved by Christ.  In this way we receive God’s fullness.

From MAGNIFICAT this morning:  Receiving God’s word with a willing heart and returning it to him in prayer and praise is a work of Lenten transformation.  We indicate to God that we have heard his voice, heard the Christ, by thanking him, by witnessing for him as best we can, and by telling the good stories about all he has done for us.  This may be astonishing news to us.  It may also be alarming when we think of all this implies . . . that we are called to greatness, we are called to our divinity.  This is the promise of the season. 

When we read this clipped and quick story by Mark, we might be tempted to run through these verses hurriedly; yet perhaps the impact of these words is all the sharper for their brevity. 

The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one having authority and not as the scribes.

This is wonderful news; yet it can be alarming.  If we are so loved by such a one . . . are we ready to live up to this promise?  This duality of amazement and apprehension pulls us into an intense and deep self-awareness, one into which we might not otherwise enter if it were not for this soul piercing encounter with God.  We err . . . and still we are loved.  In our astonishment and alarm, we move forward in hopeful expectation . . . just like the people of Capernaum two millennia ago. 

From the MAGNIFICAT evening prayer: Answer us, Lord our God!

Your love is unfailing: may our trust in you not fail us.  Answer us, Lord our God!

Your mercy is boundless: may our hope in your forgiveness grow.  Answer us, Lord our God!

Your desire for our salvation knows no limit: may our willingness to repent and be converted deepen through this season.  Answer us, Lord our God!

When we call, the answer from our God is . . . as always . . . Yes!

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.69. Print. 

For more information on the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus healed many, click on the image above or go to: http://www.davefarley.org/2009/03/28/capernaum/ 

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