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Posts Tagged ‘Mary’


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

John 12:1: Resting in Bethany

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 

Cornelis Engenbrechtsz: Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Cornelis Engenbrechtsz: Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

We know that we must balance our lives with activity and reflection; Jesus teaches us this by his example and by his word. Too much work makes us anxious, resentful, and forgetting of God.  Too much reflection makes us indolent, uncaring, and forgetting of others. We must interweave our intent with our deeds and through Lazarus’s two sisters, Martha and Mary, Jesus shows us how we are to act and what we are to do.

He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple area.  He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve.  (Mark 11:11)

Jesus visits his friends before he goes up to Jerusalem – he knows what experience is about to unfold.  Jesus allows himself to be anointed – he knows that he will need special blessings to allow the coming days to teach humanity’s greatest lesson.  Jesus does not draw out his enemies – he knows that even he must adhere to God’s plan.

We have need of our rest in Bethany and so we must take it.  We must store up, revive, take stock, and recuperate from the work of the world.

We have need of balance and pacing and so we must execute it.  We must plan, reflect, pray, be still, and prepare for the next leg of our journey.

We have need of a circle of friends and so we must rest with them.  We must ask, we must listen, we must abide, and we must allow others to tend to us.

C_Werner_Bethany_525[1]We must rest and restore in Bethany for Christ awaits us there before he journeys to the cross.  Let us choose a chapter in Jerusalem’s story and abide awhile as we do with an old friend.  Let us relax and listen.  Let us revive and receive.  We have miles yet left in our journey . . . so let us rest awhile in Bethany in the arms of the one who loves us so well.


Images from: http://truthbook.com/index.cfm?linkID=1380 and http://www.awesomestories.com/assets/christ-in-the-house-of-martha-and-mary

For an essay that examines a Martha and Mary life, read Mary and Martha Revisited at:  http://caroleduff.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/mary-and-martha-revisited/

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John 11Thoughts on the Raising of Lazarus

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

When we come across the story of the raising of Lazarus we may be tempted to skim through it or even skip over it altogether; we are thinking that we have heard this one before and yes, we have.  But if we set aside a quiet time and a quiet place to read this account of an event that took place two millennia ago . . . and when we pause to mediate on the meaning of the words beyond the story . . . we feel Christ’s presence through the questions that spring up from the pages.  And we are given new gifts of wisdom.  Here is one such gift I received this afternoon . . . you may want to offer up your own.

Verse 16: So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “let us also go to die with him”.  Thomas knows that if Jesus and his followers return to Judea – they have heard the news of Lazarus’ death – they may very likely be stoned, we understand, because earlier the disciples caution Jesus saying: Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”  Thomas is usually remembered in John 20 as the doubter, the one who refuses to believe that Jesus has returned from the dead until he has seen the crucifixion nail marks and has put his own hand in the wound in Jesus’ side.   Perhaps John uses Thomas in this way to give us the opportunity to examine our own belief in the risen Christ.  Do we demand signs or do we willingly follow . . . even when danger is imminent?  Jesus has told us about the many ways in which he appears to us.  Do we willingly follow with enthusiasm as Thomas hopes to do?  Maybe we willingly respond as Thomas does when we realize that we have doubted Christ himself . . . My Lord and my God!   Today we have the opportunity to think about our readiness to respond as Thomas does when we encounter Christ in any form.  We are perhaps uncomfortable approaching the poor, the stranger, the needy and the imprisoned yet Jesus lives in them as he lives in us.  He is not only present in those who look like us and behave as we do . . . but in diverse others as well.  This gives us something to think about today . . . and it is an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus.

There are other small places that call us to examine our way of perceiving Christ in others.  We may want to explore the verses that describe Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary.  Why does Martha tell Mary secretly that Jesus has arrived?  Why does the writer describe Jesus as perturbedWhat causes Jesus to cry?  And what do we discover about ourselves when we read verse 48?  When we arrive at the close of Chapter 11 we are told how dangerous it was to even know Jesus’ location; and we understand that members of the Sanhedrin clearly prefer land and nation over following and coming to know one who might be the Messiah.  How do we react to these chilling words?

And so we read, we pause, we reflect . . . and then we pray:  Good and faithful brother, we read this account of how you comforted your friends and called Lazarus back to this life.  We also have read about your sadness and unease.  We have understood the danger you were in . . . and that you know we are often in danger when we follow you.  Yet we know that your words and your actions bring about the peace that all of us yearn to hold.  We know that you are our wise teacher and loving shepherd. 

We know that where you go there will be questions, yet we follow because we want answers.

We know that that where you go the old order will be questioned, yet we follow because with you we are unafraid. 

We know that where you go there will be peace . . . and so we follow for this is also how we wish to live. 

Guide us always, protect us always, be with us always . . . for we are trying to follow . . . you.  Amen. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 3, 2011.

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Luke 1:46-55: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XI

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Today, when thousands of women converge on the U.S. capital, we explore Mary’s Prayer. A link for more information on the gathering follows this post. 

In days of political and civil turmoil, Mary the Mother of God reminds us how to pray

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

In times of family strife and confusion, Mary the Mother of God gives us words we might repeat.

For God has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

In the hour when friends become enemies and colleagues become strangers, Mary the Mother of God shows us the mind of God.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is more loving than we can imagine, more patient and compassionate than all of humanity gathered together.

The LORD has mercy on those who love God in every generation.

magnificatMary the Mother of God tells us that we have nothing to fear.

The LORD has shown the strength of God’s arm.

Mary the Mother of God asks us to put aside our pride to take up love.

God has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Mary the Mother of God shows us that power and might are as nothing.

The LORD has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.

Mary the Mother of God tells us that God alone sustains for an eternity.

The LORD has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich God has sent away empty.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is persistent, God is faithful, and God is hope.

The LORD has come to the rescue of God’s servant, for God has remembered the promise of mercy, the promise made to Abraham and his children forever.

madona-morenaMary the Mother of God reminds us how to enter into and act in the world. Mary calls us to goodness, endurance, and love. In times, days, and hours when the world fails us, we might return to Mary’s MAGNIFICAT to amplify our love of God as we pray with her these words.

When we explore varying translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the healing power of Mary’s joy and thanksgiving.

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church’s great communal prayer, the MAGNIFICAT is part of Vespers, or Evensong. For more information on this prayer and how it parallel’s the prayer of Hannah, visit: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/meditation-on-the-magnificat

For more on the Liturgy of the Hours and how each of us might join our voices with millions of others by pausing briefly a few times a day, visit The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

For more on Raphael’s image of the Madonna and Child, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.everypainterpaintshimself.com/article/raphaels_madonna_della_sedia_1513-14 

Women gather in Washington, D.C. in solidarity for the protection of their rights, safety, health, and families, they recognize that vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of their country. https://www.womensmarch.com/ and https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-on-washington-official-tickets-29428287801 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/womens-march.html?_r=0

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Job 19Suffering and Rejoicing Well

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Eberhar Waechter: Grieving Job and his friends

Thursday, November 26, 2015: Thanksgivng Day in the USA

As we consider terrorist events that flood before us, and as we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving in the USA, let us re-visit this Favorite post and consider how we might suffer and rejoice well.

The Book of Job is the first in the wisdom portion of scripture and it may be one of our favorites for its honesty and persistence with which this innocent man speaks.  Job has been wronged by Satan, yet retains faith and hope in God.  He asks the questions we all ask; he makes the observations we all make: why do the wicked seem to skate through life without suffering, and why do the innocent suffer?  Each of us has endured hardship as Job does at one time or another; and for this reason his words are so valuable.  Job sinks into the lowest of depths with his despair . . . yet he soars with great hope and divine love.  This is the gift of his story . . . that he both suffers and rejoices well.

How long will you vex my soul?  At times the suffering is too great, too heavy.

I cry for help; there is no redress.  In our own lives, and in the lives of others, there are moments that ask too much of human strength and endurance.

My brethren have withdrawn from me, and my friends are wholly estranged.  At times we are utterly alone, with no sheltering place, no healing balm.

All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I love have turned against me!  In the human experience, there is no greater punishment than isolation.

Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey on me?  At times we are so low that we descend into pits we did not know existed . . . and this is when we know that something new is arriving.

But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives, and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust; whom I myself shall see: my own eyes, not another’s shall behold him.  Job understands that it is impossible for us to comprehend the depth, the width, the height or the timelessness of God.  Job – although not content with the mystery of his innocent suffering – accepts that from where he stands he cannot see or know the limitlessness of God or the complexity of his plan.  Job reminds us that each of us suffers.  Each of us stands accused at times when we are innocent.  Since this is so . . . the rest of his story is also true . . . we will be vindicated.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation about the Blessed Mother and her willingness to suffer as an innocent for the good of God’s economy: She neither regretted the past nor wished for the future – she accepted wholeheartedly the magnificent present.  She had found one beautiful pearl, and all she had she gave in order to buy it.  (Mother Marie des Douleurs)

So let us follow the example of Job and the example of Mary.  They understood that they, by entering into the mystery of suffering, were sharing in a sacred gift offered by the God who loves us so much . . . that he offers us his own divinity.

Let us enter into today without looking back in anger or looking forward in despair.

Let us gather all that we have and all that we are to make this one purchase . . . the gift of transformative union where . . . through suffering, we enter into the world of God’s joy.

A favorite from March 25, 2009. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.3 (2009). Print.  

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Projectjanetsuecarole 008[1]Sirach 39:13-16

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for All of God’s Works

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Lord, for bringing me the strength to re-think my words before I said something foolish.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, God, for sending me wisdom to avoid offending someone with my opinion.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Jesus, for encouraging me when I received terrible news the other day.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Holy Spirit, for pulling me up when I was at the end of my resources.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Mary, Mother of God, for your gentle, nurturing presence in my life.

The works of God are all of them good.

imagesCAU5R5A8Let me thank you, Lord, for world in which I find myself, for the people in my life, and for the many times you have protected and lead me on my journey.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you for your gifts of salvation and redemption, for your Word of promise that I treasure and share.

Let me put down roots, let me open up my petals, let me praise you, let me bless you . . . let me thank you, Lord.  For all of your works are exceedingly good.  Amen.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Psalm 119

Our Portion

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God.

Our life is a gift from God. What we do with that life is our return gift to God. This is Our Portion.

Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope . . . My portion is the Lord; I promise to keep your words.

Last week we reflected on how Mary treasured the Word of God in her heart and body. We know that we are created in God’s image; we understand that we are dearly loved by God; and we believe that God constantly accompanies us through life even though we do not always sense God’s presence.  This is our portion in life.

As we explore God’s word in Psalm 119 strophes six through ten, let us also examine what our portion is.  And let us consider the lessons and promises that unfold.

Waw: Connection – Even if we try to deny our connection with God it exists; even if we turn our back on God, God continues to dwell within. Do we recognize the portion God gives to us?

Zayin: Woman of Valor – God enters the human race in the person of Jesus, relying on a woman of valor, Mary.  Are we equally willing to accept God’s presence in our lives?

Heth: The Life Value of Run and Return – We sometimes fail to recognize God in the marginalized who live at the edges of society.  Are we willing to run toward the poor, the sick and the outcast in our return to God?

Teth: Inversion, the Concealed Good – God’s plan is one of ideas and lives turned on their heads.  Do we see the good concealed in all harm?

Yodh: The Infinite Good – A small suspended point signifies God’s infinite goodness. Can we see this limitless good in the smallest of people and in the smallest places of creation?

Tomorrow, A Prayer to Rejoice in Our Portion.  

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Psalm 119: 9-16

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

Treasuring God’s Promise

Mary kept the Word of God in her body as the pre-natal Jesus grew in strength. She also kept the Word in her heart with reflection and prayer. We are told that she pondered the verbal and physical message she was brought. She knew that she was to bear light to the nations. She also knew that she need only allow God’s Word to transform her life in order for her to bear fruit. She knew that trust in God alone was enough . . . and in this way she treasured God’s promise.

As we explore God’s word, let us also treasure the promise we know it holds.  Today, let us reflect on the first five letters of the Hebrew alphabet as the psalmist shares them with us. And let us consider what lessons and promises they unfold.

Aleph: The Paradox of God and Humans – God calls humans into creation.  How do we respond?

Beth: God’s Dwelling Place Below – Mary agrees to serve as the ark for God’s New Covenant.  How does she find the courage to say yes?

Gimel: Reward and Punishment – The duality we find in this letter reminds us that we are created with a free will.  We are free to choose a world of either/or, a choice that divides.  We are also free to choose a world of “and,” a choice that includes.  Which world do we choose?

Daleth: Selflessness – God invites us to take part in creation by living out the Law of Love.  Do we accept this door that invites us to love?

He: Thought, Speech and Action – We see how me might answer God’s call: first in our thoughts, then in our words and finally in our deeds.  Do we accept this challenge to believe in God’s promise?

Tomorrow, a prayer to fulfill God’s promise in us.

Adapted from a reflection written on the Feast of the Immaculate heart of Mary on June 16, 2007.

For more information on the painting above, click on the image or go to: http://robinandersonfineart.blogspot.com/2011/02/mary-holding-baby-jesus-looking-up.html 

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgmentHowever, in so doing he will face opposition and death.  When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity.  She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient.  Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets . . . all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear.  As we approach the third Sunday of Advent, a time when we announce to the world with joy that the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people.  And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all the world that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.

For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Joseph, Mary and Simeon with Jesus

Joseph, Mary and Simeon with Jesus

Luke 2:21-40

A Pierced Heart

This is a verse which is my consolation as a parent . . . and particularly as a mother: A sword shall pierce your own heart, so that the thoughts of many may be revealed.  When one of my children is suffering through an injustice brought on by no fault of their own, I ask them to remember that there are times when we suffer so that evil and corruption will surface.  This does not make the pain any less; it does, however, give us a place to put the pain.

I also love Simeon’s canticle, the prayer we pray as part of the Night Office in the Liturgy of the Hours.  It is a lovely way to be thinking as we put ourselves to bed at night.  When I am restless during midnight hours, I re-pray this oration because it reminds me why we are here on earth: To know, love and to serve God.

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;

Your word has been fulfilled:

My own eyes have seen the salvation

Which you have prepared in the sight of your people:

A light to reveal you to the nations

And the glory of your people Israel. 

The image of drifting into sleep having surrendered ourselves to God’s beneficent will is a calming one.

The image of God performing all deeds openly and honestly is a strengthening one.

The image of God keeping true to his agreement with us is a reassuring one.

The image of the Blessed Mother handing her child in confidence to the wise and holy Simeon is a moving one.

The image of Simeon rejoicing at the gift of holding in his arms the world’s salvation is a joyful one.

The image of God’s love for us being so intense, so enduring and so true that it pierces our hearts so that our very thoughts are revealed to us and to others . . . is at once challenging . . . and heartening . . . and generous beyond our expectations.  For we each hold the Christ child in our own arms.

What a generous and trusting mother is Mary that she allows her heart to be pierced for us.  What an awesome and piercing love is Christ’s that he remains with us . . . and that he persists in taking us with him back to the Father.  Knowing this, we might surely walk in peace, even though our hearts be pierced.

This reflection was first written on November 5, 2009.

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