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Posts Tagged ‘Peter the Rock’


Isaiah 33: A Prophecy of Deliverance

Thursday, May 18, 2017

There is good news to celebrate . . . we are delivered from bondage.  We live in the Messianic age; the promised deliverer has arrived to live among us.   We are no longer chained.  We are not abandoned. We are not alone.

Yesterday’s Mass readings called us to reflect on the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep well . . . and whose sheep know him.  I know mine and mine know me.  Today we continue that theme.  The readings from Acts (Chapters 2 and 11) tell us the story of Peter who witnesses to the presence of the Resurrected Christ.  Psalms 23, 42 and 43 describe how God takes care of us and how we thirst after this Living God.  We learn how to shepherd well.   A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  We hear about false shepherds.  A hired man runs away and leaves his sheep because they are not his own . . . the sheep scatter and run . . . the wolf catches them. 

In today’s Noontime reading, Isaiah describes for us what happens when the true shepherd arrives to call his sheep back to the fold.  Those who attacked and scattered the innocent sheep are now themselves assaulted.  The spoils of the conflict disappear in the jaws of the locusts; they are gathered up like the crops taken up by caterpillars.  Just when the land is deserted and hushed, just when treaties are broken and fire devours the land . . . this is when deliverance happens.  The counters of treasures, the insolent, the corrupt, all of these will be gone while those faithful who have been scattered will now live on the heights.  Their refuge will be the fortresses of rocks; their food will be supplied, their water assured.  And Christ’s Rock, Peter, witnesses today, telling those gathered to listen to his story of how a vision came to him with an assignment as God’s Shepherd.  I was at prayer when in a trance I had a vision . . . The Spirit told me to accompany three men without discriminating against them.  Peter goes on to explain how God has called him to Shepherd the gentiles along with the Jewish people who have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

And so today we pray.

Good and faithful God,

You have promised that you will not abandon us . . . teach us how to not abandon others.

You have brought us the gift of hope and renewal . . . teach us to be open to the restoration you have in mind for us.

You have promised us peace and prosperity . . . teach us how to live in peace despite the turmoil we cause.

You have been the Good Shepherd . . . never abandoning us . . . never betraying us . . . teach us to live in fidelity to you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

A Favorite from May 16, 2011.

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Sirach 34:16: Our Rock of Safety

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We have spent time with Peter to explore the concept of salvific suffering. We have thought again about the good shepherds who lead us and who serve as our places of refuge, our rocks of safety. In the wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach, we know that the world will send us in search of shelters so that we might rest, sanctuaries so that we might heal and recover from the anguish of the world.

The Lord watches over those who love him; he is their strong protection and firm support. He shelters them from the heat, shades them from the noonday sun, and keeps them from stumbling and falling. (GNT)

Standing in awe of the Lord’s goodness and mercy, we find lodging under of the shadow of the rock.

Whoever fear the Lord are afraid of nothing
    and are never discouraged, for he is their hope. (NABRE)

Planting ourselves in the foundation of God’s wisdom and grace, we seek security in the hope of God’s patience.

Those who fear the Lord will not be timid,
    or play the coward, for he is their hope. (NRSV)

Growing in the goodness of God’s love, we remain always in the power of God’s fidelity.

The eyes of the Lord are upon those who love him,
    a mighty protection and strong support,
a shelter from the hot wind and a shade from noonday sun,
    a guard against stumbling and a defense against falling. (RSVCE)

A defense against the elements, a harbor in the storms of life, an open heart for the downcast, respite for the discouraged. God fulfills our needs as we move through life. God brings blossoms to the deserts as we pause to re-nourish and restore. God saves. God heals. God transforms. There is no greater rock than this rock of God’s safety.

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we discover the depth and breadth, the height and width of God’s infinite love and compassion.

We find images of some of the world’s most beautiful mountains when we click on the image above.

To further explore God’s profound love for us, enter the word rock into the blog search bar and explore. 

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1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part I

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

220px-San_Pedro_en_lágrimas_-_Murillo

Esteban Murillo: San Pedro en lágrimas

Why must we suffer?

This is a beautiful idea that reminds us that we are called to be living stones in the living temple of Christ.  The letters of Peter are full of wonderfully good advice about how to build a Christian community and this is no surprise. Peter is The Rock on whom Christ builds his church. Peter denied Christ three times during the Passion, as Christ himself predicted, but he bridges any gap he had created by following Christ so ardently. Today we examine Peter’s suffering to learn how we might also learn to suffer well.

Studying The Acts of the Apostles slowly is refreshing if we can give ourselves the space and time to reflect deliberately and carefully on the story of the passion with which the first Christians feel Christ’s presence after his death.  When we believe ourselves to be in dire straits, we really only need turn to this story.  It reveals so much about the hope we called to live joyfully.

In Chapter 5, Ananais and Sapphira are struck dead by the Lord for withholding the gifts given to them. We hear about the second trial and imprisonment of the apostles, their mystical release by the angel of God, and rabbi Gamaliel’s wise argument to let the apostles go with a flogging – rather than execution – because if their work comes from God, you will be able to destroy them; you may even find yourself fighting against God. 

At the end of this chapter we see the apostles return to their community and we find them rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus . . . even though the authorities warn them to cease healing in Jesus’ name.

Today we reflect on our opportunities to suffer as early church members did. We examine the zeal with which we carry out our own story of Christ’s hope and resurrection. We explore the choices we see in Acts 5 as we consider the words of Peter. And we begin to understand that we are each free to choose if and how we will suffer well.

Tomorrow, celebrating as we mourn.

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

 

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Matthew 16:18: The Gates of the Netherworld

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hieronymus Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights

Hieronymus Bosch: Garden of Earthly Delights

There are days in our lives when we question God’s plan, nights when anxiety about the future haunts us. Where do we go when we have no recourse? What do we do when we have no power? On whom to do we call when we have no voice? On what do we rely when we see no clear path?

On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. (NRSV)

Jesus points out that he begins to build his church on the rock of Peter, a man who thrice will deny him and who thrice will proclaim his love for Jesus.

I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. (GNT: Good News Translation)

Jesus tells us that each of us stands on this rock that is Peter, a man who brings together Paul and James, a man who asks God’s counsel and listens to God’s word.

Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (DRA: Douay-Rheims American)

Jesus reminds us that each of us sins and each of us is imperfect, each needs redemption, each is called.

This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. (THE MESSAGE)

Portrait of Hieronymous Bosch (c. 1450-1516)

Portrait of Hieronymous Bosch (c. 1450-1516)

Where do we go when days are dark and nights are endless? Jesus explains that the foundation of our own temple stands on the rock of Peter’s return. Jesus calls us to place our own lives in God’s hands as Peter does, to open our own hearts to the Holy Spirit as Peter does. Jesus wants us to put aside our judging and our fears. Jesus calls us to convert a troubled world with acts of kindness, humility and compassion. Jesus tells us that love is a fortress against the powers of evil. Jesus embraces us and soothes troubled hearts. He calms tempestuous seas. He eases anger, fear and hatred. Jesus saves . . . even against the darkness of Hades.

For the faithful who place all hope in the power of Christ, evil will not prevail.

When we compare varying versions of this verse, the healing, saving power of God’s word brings us consolation and relief. Use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore.

For a detailed study of Bosch’s Garden of earthly Delights, click on the image above, or visit: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/renaissance-reformation/northern/hieronymus-bosch/a/bosch-the-garden-of-earthly-delights 

For more on the life of the artist, click on Bosch’s portrait or visit: http://www.hieronymus-bosch.org

For a slide show with full commentary on the painting, or to explore the symbolism and meaning of the images, visit: http://www.esotericbosch.com/Garden.htm

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