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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’


Judges 16Samson and Delilah

Peter Paul Reubens: Samson and Delilah

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This is a familiar story to us – and when we open scripture to a comfortable place, we might look more closely, more intensely, to see if we are perhaps missing something because of the familiarity.

Samson was one of the series of Judges who protected and guided the Hebrew people before they asked for a king.  In this book we see the people of God continually repeat a cycle of dissent into separation from God . . . which causes loneliness and anguish followed by sorrow and repentance.  Yahweh always responds by forgiving and tending to his lost sheep.  There are periods of complacency and quiet when the people forget that God is central to their lives which separate the times of the judges whom God sends to lead the faithful.  Samson is one of the most famous.  We look at the following verses: 2 – And all the night they waited saying, “Tomorrow we plan to kill him”, verse 19 – Then she began to mistreat him, for his strength had left him, verse 28 – Samson cried out to the Lord and said,  “O Lord God, remember me!  Strengthen me, O God, this last time . . . let me die with the Philistines!”

Samson enters into a cycle familiar to all of us. He succumbs to Delilah and to the plot surrounding him.  He is human.  He fails.  He suffers.  He has hope.  He repents.  He makes reparation for his former action.  He is honored.  He brings the light of truth into the darkness of greed and corruption.  After closer reading, we see the cycle so familiar in our own lives. After closer reading, we do not understand the mystery of what happened more, but what we do understand is that no destruction or death can overcome the bright light of God’s goodness and mercy, and we are – we hope – a little more willing to see God’s goodness in our own lives..

From MAGNIFICAT today: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1:5God is mystery.  The maker of the universe dwells in light inaccessible, so bright that it blinds the probing eye, the questioning mind.

For those who are powerless, that they may experience your power employed on their behalf. 

For those who have abandoned hope, that they may know your mercy.

For those who fail to see you in mystery, that they may come to feel your gentle love.

Amen.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.4 (2008). Print.  

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 9, 2008. 

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Salvador Dali: The Sacrament of the Last Supper

2 Corinthians 1:20-24: Everything is Holy Now

Saturday, June 17, 2017

“Once you learn to take your place inside the circle of praise and mutual deference, all meaningful distinctions between secular and sacred, natural and supernatural, fall away. In the Divine Economy, all is useable, even our mistakes and our sin. This message shouts from the cross, and we still did not hear it! Everything is holy now. And the only resistance to that divine flow of holiness and wholeness is human refusal to see, to enjoy, and to participate”. (Rohr and Morrell 189-190)

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.

In Salvador Dali’s depiction of the Last Supper, we see the Trinity. The outstretched arms of the Father take in the holy newness of the meal; the good and faithful Son offers himself in the bread and wine; and the Holy Spirit nestles between Jesus’ right hand and cheek. We may need to enlarge and move the image in order to better see this small white dove. In the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. where this painting hangs, visitors are free to step forward and backward in order to bring the Spirit into focus, an exercise that reminds us that although we may not always feel a part of this mystery, it is nevertheless there. We also find that all twelve apostles are present, meaning that Judas Iscariot – who later betrays his friend with a kiss – is also present. Which figure is he? We have no way of knowing. Another mystery that Dali presents to us.

God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By the Spirit God has stamped us with God’s eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

“What it comes down to is that we are each a transmitter station, a relay station . . . Once I was able to move from pyramid thinking, by reason of the Trinity – ah! Then my mind let go of its own defenses and stopped refusing the universal dance”. (Rohr and Morrell 190)

We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.

“The love in you – which is the Spirit in you – always show says yes. Love is not something you do; love is someone you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can buy. It’s not something you can attain. It is the presence of God with you, called the Holy Spirit”. (Rohr and Morrell 193)

Rohr, Morrell, and Dali tell us that everything belongs, and everything is holy, even our sins and failures. Rohr, Morrell, and Dali also remind us we are part of this sacred triad. We also kneel as Christ blesses us. We also are swept into the enormous arms of God. We have only to be open to this divine energy in the holy now.

When we compare varying translation of these verses from THE MESSAGE, we begin to sense the reality of God’s pledge that everything is holy. Tomorrow, Corpus Christi and uncreated grace.

Rohr, Richard with Mike Morrell. THE DIVINE DANCE: THE TRINITY AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016. Print.  

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Matthew 2:1-12: Do Not Fear – Part XIV

Sunday, January 8, 2017

tissot-the-magi-in-the-house-of-herod-719x596x721

James Tissot: The Magi in the House of Herod

Matthew describes divergent reactions to the news that a new king has come to Judea. Scholars from the east spend time and finances looking for this new leader. King Herod and the city of Jerusalem show us a different response. What is our own reaction to this news?

Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

In the Day by Day meditation presented in today’s MAGNIFICAT, Fr. Alfred Delp has more words for us about the magi. They are the men with clear eyes that probe things to their very depths. They have a real hunger and thirst for knowledge. And we might ask . . . what is our own hunger? After what do we thirst?

Delp’s words mean more to us when we remember that he died in a Nazi concentration camp: I know what that means now. They are capable of arriving at right decisions. They subordinate their lives to the end in view and they willingly journey to the ends of the earth in quest of knowledge, following a star, a sign, obeying an inner voice that would never have made itself heard but for the hunger and the intense alertness that hunger produces. And we might ask ourselves . . . are we willing to subordinate our lives to such a quest? Are we willing to give up the familiarity of our fears to follow the star, the sign that Christ wants to move and act in us? Do we genuinely welcome the newness of the Christ child? Are we willing to accept this gift of Epiphany, this revelation, this surprise?

More from Delp: What are we looking for anyway? And where will we find genuine yearning so strong that neither fatigue, nor distance, nor fear of the unknown, nor loneliness, nor ridicule will deter us? And we might ask . . . are we willing to take on these questions each day as we rise, each Noontime as we pause, and each evening as we retire?

Herod responds to this mystery of knowledge, redemption and love with his familiar fears. He flies into a rage and lashes out at this child who represents something new. The magi, on the other hand, tell us how to take in the gift of this child who grows to be a man willing to sacrifice all in order to save us.

bhreligion-science-and-the-journey-of-the-magiThey rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

As we close this Christmastide, we reflect on our willingness to give our fears to the Christ who is able to turn harm into good. As we carry this season of joy into the new year, we consider our openness to the journey of life in Christ, the quest for a food that satisfies for eternity. And we consider our persistence in the pursuit of the star that will lead us to Christ and his surprising offer of eternal peace. This is an Epiphany worth celebrating.

For a homily on spirituality versus religion, and today’s feast as a journey of seeking – our quest for God, and God’s relentless quest for our hearts, click on the image of the Magi and the Holy Family. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Day by Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 8.1 (2017): 115-116. Print.  

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John 8:21-30: Dead End

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 dead end

Then [Jesus] went over the same ground again. “I’m leaving and you are going to look for me, but you’re missing God in this and are headed for a dead end. There is no way you can come with me.”

We are accustomed to hearing Jesus invite us to follow The Way with him and so today’s words might be disappointing. Yet when we look closely, we appreciate anew Jesus’ genuine candor, his gentle honesty.

God says: I know that the idea that Jesus leaves you and the Spirit comes to dwell in you might be difficult to grasp. I understand that the cosmos is as much a mystery to you as are the details of the human body and brain. I see that you have many questions: How can God be with us and everywhere at the same time? Why and how is God able to manipulate time and space? How do distant stars and tiny flowers all sprout from the same dust? Read my son’s words to you today and decide to let them sit with you. Re-visit them before you retire this evening. Allow the balm of my love to heal you, transform you, and bring you onto the path that has no dead end.

We wonder how we can avoid the dead end Jesus predicts for us.

Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.”

The last verse in today’s reading might help us to better understand how the dead end we see before us becomes a beautiful openness to the possible: When he put it in these terms, many people decided to believe.

We determine to move from the dead end of our narrowness to the open way of Jesus as we remember this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, the truth.

 

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John 7:40-53: Division

Saturday, March 12, 2016 IMM_Nicodemus_thumb

This week we have contemplated the tug-of-war between the beauty and gift of the mystery and miracle with which God surrounds us, and we have also seen the power of our unbelief and doubt. Before moving into the fifth week of Lent, we consider the authority this division exerts on us . . . and what counter-authority is present in our lives from which we might draw.

Those in the crowd who heard [Jesus’] words were saying, “This has to be the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah!” But others were saying, “The Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? There was a split in the crowd over him. Some went so far as wanting to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.

The police who were sent to arrest him say: Have you heard the way he talks? We’ve never heard anyone speak like this man.

Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus earlier and was both a leader and a Pharisee, spoke up. “Does our Law decide about a man’s guilt without first listening to him and finding out what he is doing?” But they cut him off. “Are you also campaigning for the Galilean? Examine the evidence. See if any prophet ever comes from Galilee.” Then they all went home.

Whom do we most closely resemble? Those in the crowd who believe? Are we the Pharisees who send for law enforcement or are we the police themselves? Might we be Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin? Or might we just go home with no more thought to what we witness? When we use the scripture link to read this entire story using different translations, we have the opportunity to find ourselves in these verses. To explore our own division or unity through the characters in this story, click on the names in the paragraph above.

We examine our belief, our doubt, and the many points of view we will hold and evangelize as we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “God’s generosity is sometimes not fair,” let us think instead, “When we put away the past and follow God’s example of enormous generosity, we are better able to welcome the lost back home into the kingdom . . . and to give thanks for our own part in God’s great rejoicing”. 

Tomorrow, adultery.

 

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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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Mark 8:11-13: The Demand for a Sign1765_Jesus-Man-of-Sorrows-628x416

Friday, August 28, 2015

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

I am certain that Jesus sighs deeply in his spirit many times in a human day . . . and I am equally convinced that he smiles with our many little triumphs over self.  His humanness wants to celebrate with us.  His divinity wants to heal us.  Despite all of the evidence we have before us of God’s constancy and love, we still do not trust God . . . we still ask for signs.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

Luke 3:10-18 is a story of an encounter which John the Baptist had with the Jewish and pagan world.  He cautions the Jews that they must share what they have rather than hoard it for themselves.  He asks the tax collectors to cease cheating people.  And he reminds the soldiers that they ought to be content with the power they have and cease their grumbling. As Bishop Robert Morneau tells us in Daily Reflections for ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2009-2010 when he writes about this episode: Joy lies in perpetual gratitude.   The more we practice gratitude, the easier it is to live in trust and faith.  The more we live in trust and faith, the less need we have to ask for signs.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

In Matthew 21:23-27, Jesus is asked by the chief priests and elders by whose authority he speaks.  Jesus replies with a question – as he does frequently when he knows he is being baited.  He asks who gave his cousin, John, the authority to baptize.  He wants to know: Was it of heavenly or human origin?  When they refuse to commit themselves, Jesus declines to answer their question.  They had not really been looking for an answer.  Are we always asking for an answer when we question . . . or are we trying to control God in our lives?

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

We humans question God continually.  We want to know our next steps.  We want to know the reasons, the origins, the causes and the effects.   We are a bit afraid, or a bit too proud, to allow our sophisticated selves to experience wonder or mystery; and yet it is through the mystery of Christ’s presence in our lives each day that we are stirred to ask questions, to delve deep within, to step outside of ourselves.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

We imagine that Christ sighs a great deal as he accompanies us in our journey toward him.  We also imagine that he smiles a great deal . . . as we learn to capitulate ourselves into the safety of his hands.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 14, 2009.

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Mark 14:12-16: Preparation of the Dwelling Placebread-and-wine

Corpus Christi Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Feast of Corpus Christi is a celebration of Christ’s presence in the world in a very special way. Today we read and reflect on how Jesus – he who is the son of the living God – prepares for and celebrates a day when God has saved us all.  We might forget this easily unless we remind ourselves often that we need not struggle with the world.  Our only struggle is with our own stubbornness or wilfulness when we refuse to hand over our suffering to God.

Some of us think of our meeting with God as taking place in some foggy future just after we die; there are many stories, novels, plays, films and poetry about how we humans shed our mortal skin and meet with our creator to make an accounting of all that we have done – or not done – on earth.  We forget that God is with us constantly, seeing all that we do, available for a conversation, able to give advice, loving us into goodness.  We ought not hesitate in preparing a chair for God, a bed for Jesus, a meal or conversation to share with the Spirit.

Everything we have heard about the story of our salvation is good news; yet we hesitate to believe.

Everything we have seen about the story of our rescue is about our new freedom; yet we hesitate to hope.

Everything we have known about the living presence of the Christ is immediate and irrefutable; yet we hesitate to join God in this union of love.

We must prepare a place today in which we can find Christ and spend time with him in an honest, authentic dialog about both our worries and joys. If we have a special place where we find God’s presence readily, let us remain a few moments longer than usual . . . and let us thank Christ for the gift of mystery that keeps us close and questioning. Let us thank God for the gift of life that brings us eternal peace. And let us determine more than ever to live as fully as we might in the Spirit. For all of this, let us prepare ourselves to accept this miracle of Corpus Christi, this mysterious, wonderful, singular dwelling place where for each of us in our own time and in our own way . . . body and spirit are one.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 10, 2010.

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In ChristSunday, October 26, 2014

Jeremiah 1:1-10

I am too young . . .

This week we buried a young woman who was months away from her high school graduation. She was much too young to die. In our Noontime journey we have spent time with Jeremiah and today this reflection comes back to us. It was first written on September 26, 2008 and is adapted as a post today.

We just received word that the brother of one our ninth graders was killed in a car accident on his way to high school today.  He is a junior.  He is too young to go.

Looking for consolation we turn to scripture . . . the book opens to Jeremiah . . . and our eyes fall to see . . . I am too young.

We complain to God when he sends us or calls us that we are not the one to do this work with which he has tasked us.  We believe that we are not the proper servants.  We do not have the tools.  We do not know what to say or to do.  We are ill-equipped.  We are a constant Jeremiah.  And then events like today’s happen and all things come into perspective.

In a sense, each of us is too young.  None of us has the answers to the many questions we hear. We search for ways to solve the mystery before us . . . and we feel too young.

When the darkest hours hover, when the rain does not end, when the pain feels as though it is taking over, we can do only one thing.

Be still and know that I am God.

In sorrow and in silence my heart waits for you, O Lord.

Truly we are wonderfully made and you are our wondrous God.

We will call upon the Lord and we will be saved.

At dusk, dawn and noon we will complain.

And our prayer will be heard.

God in heaven be with us always.

And let perpetual light shine upon us.

Amen.

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