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Posts Tagged ‘Peter’


Saturday, June 20, 2020

headline14[1]Matthew 5:38-48

Vengeance

We hear this message often; yet it cannot be overstated.  True love is one which exacts no payment or punishment.  True love – this Law of Love which Jesus brings to us – does not sink to the depths of the abuser.  My mother was fond of telling us: Do not sink to your opponent’s level.  Be a lady/gentleman.  Do not fight fire with fire.  Kill you enemy with kindness.  My mother was a good shepherd.

Today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation is entitled “Do you Love Me?” and it is written by Fr. Julián Carrón, a professor of theology at the University of Milan.  He writes: Our astonishment at Christ’s love for each of us dominates our life.  Carrón proposes that there is a nothingness that constantly looms over every man, and that often makes him doubt that there is an answer that corresponds to the need for truth, for beauty, for justice, and for happiness in his heart, because nothing is able to totally fascinate him for long.  Carrón writes that once God becomes overwhelming attractive to us, we begin to understand and even feel the depth of this kind of love born of suffering, resurrection and restoration.  This is a love which cannot be turned away, nor can it be extinguished.  God’s holiness reveals itself as a passionate love for his people [and] . . . all man’s frailty, his betrayal, all the dreadful possibilities of history are traversed by that question put to Peter on the lake that morning [after his resurrection], “Do you love me?”

How much do we love God?  Enough to give up our petty fascination with payback and vengeance?  Enough to feed his sheep?  Enough to petition for our abusers?

Peter replies to Christ’s question:  Yes, Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.  Carrón writes: In this free “yes” of the creature, in every circumstance of life, the glory of God echoes and is at work.

Imagine if we all might put aside our personal hurts – knowing that God knows all – and allow Christ to mediate our disagreements and our battles.  Imagine what a world it might be.  Imagine what happiness we might find.

When we say yes to putting aside our desire to retaliate, we give God our own YesThe nothingness that constantly looms over every one of us is dispelled.  And we begin to know the depths of a true love which does not tolerate or even recognize the desire to take revenge.

As we ponder what to do about those who scheme against us at work or even at home, as we contemplate how God stands plots on their heads to bring goodness out of harm, as we consider that every lesson the Spirit teaches is about inversion, we might want to take Jesus’ advice to us and pray for those who seek our end rather than ask for revenge.  And as my mother so often reminded us when we struggled with praying for those negative or dangerous people who came into our own lives, we might want to begin by killing them with our kindness.


Image from: http://www.whatdidjesussay.com/14-anyone-can-love-their-friends-love-your-enemies-and-pray-for-them-jesus/

Adapted from a reflection written on May 29, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.5 (2012). Print.

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

Tissot: The False Witness

James Tissot: False Witness before Caiaphas

Luke 22 – The Plot to Kill Jesus

Over and over again we read frightening lines like this one: The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.   The leaders see that they will lose influence and power because to Jesus offers compassion and healing to those who suffer.  The leaders also worry that Jesus’ actions might attract the attention of the overlord Romans, and they do not want to encourage another Jewish rebellion.  They search for a way to do away with this troublesome rabbi who asks piercing questions.  Jesus – who presents a way of finding timeless peace and healing restoration – is eliminated by those who offer far less.  The paradox is that this cornerstone that is rejected becomes a salvific force which redeems not only friends but enemies – if only these adversaries might put down their weapons and return to the goodness to which they are called.

Today we continue with our theme of dark schemes and wicked conspirators, and we look at how events around Jesus’ last hours unwind . . .

While Jesus and his followers prepare for Passover, the shadowy plot of murder unwinds; these two activities coil around one another in a twisting dance of darkness and light.  This serves to remind us that in this world goodness and evil often walk side by side unremarked . . . almost accepted.  We fool ourselves into believing that all around us must be perfect.  Who is the reaper who knows to sort the grain from the chaff?

A foreshadowing of Peter’s denial sends a frisson of consciousness through us . . . we too have denied Christ when we are under pressure.  Jesus reminds us that we need nothing for our journey save his protection and guidance.  We fool ourselves into believing that we make our own way and earn our own bread. Who is the source of our talents?

Jesus prays.  Judas betrays.  The faithful scatter.  The powerful take over.  The odd dance of inversion continues as those with arms believe themselves to be the strongest.  We fool ourselves into believing that we can exert pressure to win arguments by overwhelming knowledge when overwhelming goodness is the true strength.  Who allows himself to be made weak so that he might be strong in the creator?

Arrest, denial, rejection.  Jesus stands innocent before Pilate and Herod.  He is beaten and sentenced to death.  He carries his cross, he is crucified and dies . . . and he awaits the resurrection he has been promised by the Father.  We fool ourselves into believing that this story was lived once by a man two thousand years ago.  Who suffers each day with each of his billions of sisters and brother?

There is no plot Jesus does not comprehend.  There is no darkness he has not experienced.  There is no pain he has not suffered.  There is no mockery, no betrayal, no rebuffing, no murder he has not survived.  Jesus experiences all, and Jesus wants to save and restore all . . . if we only rely on him.

When the situation is bleakest, when the plot is thickest, when the hour is darkest . . . this is where Christ stands.  This is where he waits . . . for he knows that we will need him because we take nothing else with us on this journey – no purse, no bag, no sword.  We take only Christ, for he is all we need against any evil, against any plot . . . against even murder.


Adapted from a Noontime written on November 18, 2009. 

Image from: http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/tis-trial-caiaphas/

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images[3]Easter Wednesday, April 15, 2020

John 21:3

We also will come with you . . .

We are just a few days away from our Easter experience and yet how often do we think of its impact on our lives? We also will come with you . . .

We are only a handful of quick days away from our entering into the empty tomb and yet how much does the resurrection influence our words and actions?  We also will come with you . . .

We are only a split-second in God’s time away from the resurrection and yet how eager are we to cast heavy nets into disappointing waters?  We also will come with you . . .

Jesus has visited his followers on several occasions after his resurrection and now he calls the faithful to Galilee to be fishers of men. We also will come with you . . .

Peter says that he is returning to the boats and nets they knew so well before the Christ came into their lives in such a vivid and startling way and the other apostles tell him: We also will come with you . . .

The Easter promise of life in Christ has been fulfilled and now the option is ours.  We also will come with you . . .

Our emptiness is fullness in the Spirit and now we might choose to say: We also will come with you . . .

Our suffering is joy in the economy of God’s way and so now we say: We also will come with you . . .

Our insecurities become strength when we remember the Easter promise and so now we pray: We also will come with you . . .

Our fear and anxieties become trust and confidence when we live as Children of God and so now we pray: We also will come with you . . .

Our loss becomes love when we live as Easter people and so now we pray: We also will come with you . . .

We join all God’s holy ones in the events of the Eastertide so as we come together let us intone with one another the words of Jesus’ first followers . . . We also will come with you!

Tomorrow, Sharing in the Desert . . .


A re-post from Easter 2013.

Image from: http://danieljclark.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/02/fishing-stories-sermon-from-epiphany-5-luke-5111.html

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Easter Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Luke 5:1-11

Coming Up With Nothing

fishermen[1]In Luke’s description of the calling of the apostles, we find the crowds pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God.  There are boats by the lake side and as Jesus steps into one of them he asks the fisherman, Peter, to put out into the water.  There, a short distance away, he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  When he finishes speaking, he asks Peter to put out in to deeper water in order to fish.  Peter replies: Master, we have worked hard all night and have come up with nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.  They catch a great number of fish, so many that the nets begin to tear.  Peter calls to his partners who come alongside to help them take in the catch.  There are so many fish that they were in danger of sinking.  Peter, James and John realize in that instant that the Messiah stands before them and also in that moment Jesus says to them – and to us: Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.  And when they came ashore . . . they left everything and followed him. 

Last week we closely examined the interchange between the risen Christ and his bewildered followers; today we look at Luke’s description of the apostles’ original call and find a foreshadowing of that later exchange and reunion beside the sea.  Perhaps it was this memory that called Peter and the others back to their nets and boats.  This we will never know; but what we do know is that Christ speaks and calls to us in the same way – especially when we are weary from having worked so hard for so long only to have our nets come up so empty.

This startling story is more than the words we see before us; it is an invitation to a full and fruitful life in the Spirit.  This familiar recounting is more than verses brought together by a writer two thousand years ago; it is an open door to salvation.  This Gospel is more than a sacred scripture; it is a guarantee from the risen Christ that when we find ourselves empty, alone, bewildered, overcome, bereft or betrayed that the best and most able of shepherds is with us as we steer our tiny vessel.

And so we pray to Jesus who first stepped into the boats of exhausted fishermen to transform them into fishers for the kingdom . . .

When we are terrified by all that surrounds us as we confront the pandemic and move forward in fear, live in us as we answer your call. 

When we are physically, emotionally and psychologically weary, be with us are you were with your loved and loving followers in your days on the Sea of Tiberias.

When we have come up with nothing, have seen our life’s work erased, have exhausted every bit of our creativity and energy, be with us are you were with those you touched and healed in Galilee.

When we leave everything to follow you, sacrificing comfort and ease, be with us as you were with the faithful who returned to you and gave all they had and all they were in order to be close to you.

When we are empty, when we are full, when we are exhausted, when we are filled with the Spirit, when we leave all that we know to trust your call, keep us close, keep us constant, keep us in your love. Amen.

Tomorrow, “We also will come with you . . . “


For a devotional on this same citation, click the image above or go to: http://goodfaithblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/luke-51-11-bible-study-devotion-what.html

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Easter Monday, April 13, 2020

John 18:12-27

The Difference

Fyodor Bronnikov: The Head of the Apostle Peter

Fyodor Bronnikov: The Head of the Apostle Peter

What makes Peter different from Judas? Why is Peter “The Rock” and Judas “The Betrayer?”  When we begin to reflect on this question we see how the Easter story holds so much importance for us.  Looking closely we find that Peter repents and allows himself to remain open to Christ. Judas slinks away, suffers remorse, returns the money he received to the chief priests and elders and then hangs himself. (Matthew 27:3-5) He does not seek God. He is so paralyzed by the sudden truth which he sees that he takes his own life. For whatever reason unknown to us, he is unable to allow his pain to bring him to God through purification. He cannot suffer.

Peter moves through his pain back to Christ. He believes Jesus who says that when we repent we are forgiven and restored. Always. Without fail. Judas does not. Judas suspects that Jesus is false. Why?  We have no way of knowing but modern psychology tells us it is likely because Judas himself is false. Judas cannot believe the words of Christ because he himself lies, so he expects that Jesus lies as well.

The restorative part of this story is found in the last chapter of this same book which we have examined all week.  We may want to return once more today to read this portion of John’s Gospel as one full story for when we do it becomes more than a story.  It begins to come into focus as our own story and as an expectation of all that is in store for each of us.

What have we come to understand in this week of Easter?  Not only does Jesus return to sustain the weary disciples as they struggle to more fully understand the real meaning of his Easter resurrection, he returns to sustain them in this life and in the eternal next.  Yet not only does Jesus restore us, he gives us each an assignment: “Feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep.”  Jesus returns to renew the promise of liberation, the assurance of salvation, and the gift of eternal love.

We may balk, as Peter did, at the requirements of our covenant with God, but God will patiently await our turning with openness.

We may be anxious about how or if we will fulfill God’s hope in us but God is waiting to restore; God wants to fulfill our heart’s desire; God asks us to live in intimacy with him.

We may worry, we may doubt, and we may fail; yet God does not reject us for God is determined to love us into goodness.

We may rest in the Lord, believe in the Christ, and remain in the Spirit.

Betrayal or return; this choice is ours to make.  And this choice makes all the difference in the world.

Tomorrow, coming up with nothing . . . 


Adapted from a reflection posted on April 13, 2013. 

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Tuesday, March 31, 2013

John 20:1-10

open-tomb[1]And he saw and believed . . .

As we continue our journey through a pandemic, we visit Easter Week post reflections from 2013. God guides and protects. Christs visits and heals. The Spirit comforts and abides.  

The details that appear so simply in John’s accounting of the open tomb call us into the scene.  We are invited to notice small, tangible points that tell the story so well that none have since forgotten it.

Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark . . . She must have fretted most of the night, unable to sleep, anxious to return to the place where his body was laid.  We follow her down into the abandoned quarry that now serves as a cemetery and we see that the open tomb, the heavy stone moved, no soldiers and no body.  Even in the darkness Mary knows that Jesus has gone.  She senses, more than sees, that he has gone. But where?

So Peter and the other disciple both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter, and arrived at the tomb first . . . Being younger than Peter, John arrives first on the scene once the women alert them.  A thousand possible scenarios surge through his brain. He tries to process them but he lets those thoughts go unprocessed. His only thought is to stand in that tomb to see for himself.  Yet he holds back, waiting for the panting Peter who goes into the tomb without pausing.  As the light curls across the morning sky Peter and John squint into the darkness, sensing, more than seeing, that Jesus is not there.  But if not here, then where?

Grave Clothes[1]They saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place . . . This peculiarity does not escape them and they try to make sense of what they see. They quickly speculate a number of reasons for this small detail but they do not want to be drawn away from the bigger question: where has Jesus gone?  They sense, more than know, that his message at the Thursday evening supper might just make sense.  Is this what Jesus meant when he said those confusing words?  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.  Where does Jesus intend to take them?  Where are they to meet him so that they might go together?

Then the disciple who had arrived at the tomb first, saw and believed . . . They search one another’s faces then shift their gaze back to the cloths.  The winding-sheet folded carefully as if by an attendant, the face cloth neatly rolled nearby.  An image of the Christ pausing to lay the rolled cloth aside before he leaves the tomb begins to take shape in the disciple’s mind; slowly a knowing begins to form and John allows himself to smile as his eyes move from face to face, then back to the cloths.  Abruptly the first rays of morning light filter into the empty tomb and the apostle is seized by a mixture of joy and fear.

They did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead . . . They know not what is to come.  They know not where they will go.  They do not know how or when Jesus will return but a truth beings to form within just as the early dawn brings light into the empty quarry cave.  Jesus has not died.  Jesus lives.  Jesus has not abandoned them.  Jesus will return.

And in that flash of a moment they see and they believe.

Let us rise up with Easter joy as we examine the story before us.  Let us run to tell what we now know.  Let us say to anyone who will listen that we too, have seen.  And that we too, believe.


For an interesting reflection on the possible significance of the folded cloths, click on the image of the burial cloth above or visit: http://marcohara.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-linen-burial-cloth-of-jesus.html

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Acts 12:1-19: Suddenly


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Acts 12:1-19: Suddenly

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell.

Murillo: The Liberation of St. Peter

Murillo: The Liberation of St. Peter

We linger over the story of Peter’s deliverance from the prison cell where he awaited Herod’s will.  We imagine a winged warrior who goes into combat with such peaceful ease.  We wonder if we are dreaming or if God is somehow delivering us from certain condemnation and death.

Get up quickly.

We do as the apparition commands.  Half-asleep we struggle to find our balance; we tax our senses, asking for instant and accurate input.  Is this a dream?

Put on your belt and your sandals.

The voice is real yet all is strange.  There is an urgency and yet somehow we are not frightened.   We grapple for the things of the world that we know well.  They bring us comfort although we know they do not protect us in any way.

Put on your cloak and follow me.

Moving forward we convince ourselves that in a fleeting moment we will fully awaken to find ourselves in the well-known prison of our fear.  We touch familiar objects as if to reassure ourselves . . . knowing that they hold no help for us, understanding that full and lasting assurance lies only in this lovely and dreamy apparition that leads us forward.

They passed the first guard and then the second.

The light breeze ruffles against our sleep-wrinkled cheeks.  All seems real enough yet how is it that we slip so easily past the chains that fettered us so well and for so long?

They emerged and made their way down an alley.

It is true.  Freedom has been gained.  And with such slight effort!  Who would have thought the battle might be so easily won?

Suddenly the angel left him. 

And just as quickly as this powerful apparition appears it now evaporates; yet this new harmony lingers; fear does not pierce our newly-found armor.  This winged hand of God has brought us to a peaceful place with ease and grace.

Then he recovered his senses.

Fully awake, we realize that disaster has been averted.  Prayers have been answered.  The miracle has taken place.  We allow ourselves to dwell for a brief time in this new feeling of gift.  A wave of gratitude surges up from our feet and wings through our body.  Suddenly we want to fly to those we love to deliver the Lord’s message of freedom.

He went to the house and knocked on the gateway door.  A maid answered and was overjoyed.  She ran to tell the others of his deliverance.  They told her, “You are out of your mind”.

A detail from Murillo's Liberation of St. Peter

Detail: Murillo’s “Liberation of St. Peter”

Our news falls on disbelieving ears and yet we persist.

He continued to knock and when they opened the door they saw him and were astounded.

We fall into waiting arms as we announce the Good News for suddenly we fully know that what we have been told is true.

He is risen.  He saves.  He conquers all. He has returned for us. 

We are loved.  Amen.


Image from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/bartolome-esteban-murillo/liberation-of-st-peter-1667

To read more about Peter’s Deliverance, visit the Expect Miracles page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/miracles/expect-miracles/

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Denial


Mark 14:22-26: Denial

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Denial in the life of a Christian is not an option.

The very rock upon whom Jesus builds the Church – Peter – denies that he was a companion of Jesus.  This is actually a good thing for all of us who are Christ’s twenty first century apostles.  If such a one shows weak knees and nauseous stomach when called to witness . . . then so may we.  The glory of this story is that when the Resurrected Christ asks Peter: Do you love me?  (John 21), we see Peter rise to the challenge: Yes, Lord, you know that I do.  After this encounter with his resurrected teacher, Peter dedicates the rest of his life to the dangerous work asked of him by this Lord.  Can we not do the same, even at a cost to our reputation and our finances?  What do we fear?

It is so difficult to step out of the mold everyone expects and into the behavior our Lord calls from us.  It is so frightening to leave all comfortable habits behind and embark on a new, spiritual response to our Lord.  Yet it is such a privilege to witness to this Lord who loves us beyond all measure.

It is a gift to take up the cross we are given to move toward the light.  It is a gift to be called into the difficult work of conversion.  Yet each time we feel the queasiness, the headache, the dry mouth, the unwilling spirit, we might remember Peter.  Perhaps it also helps to remember that there is work to be done . . . and that not all are called . . . and that not all respond . . . even when given the second opportunity.  As a sign that we are Christians, we are to take heart as we heft the unwanted cross to our shoulders . . . and we are to encourage one another as we carry our burdens back to the Lord, who will then add them to the weight he already carries.

Denial in the life of a Christian is not an option.

And so we pray, Dear Lord . . .

Grant us the confidence we will need to lift our crosses and follow you.

Grant us the courage we will need to step out of our comfort zone when we follow you.

Grant us the understanding we will need to the value our suffering in a way that transforms us and others.

Grant us the stamina we will need to see the hope in your cross.

Grant us the love we will need to allow ourselves to be open to your guidance as we carry our crosses with you.

Amen.


Image from: http://ymiblogging.org/2012/05/odj-one-meal-one-body/

Written on September 23, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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The Catholic Letters: Universality

Friday, October 4, 2019

The New American Bible explains the inclusion of the letters of James, Peter, John and Jude in the canon of the New Testament saying that “early Christians saw the New Testament as the depository of apostolic figures to whom they are attributed”.  That being said, there is ambiguity about the authorship of some of these letters; however, they were all written during the early “apostolic age” and as such are important to us – the apostles of the twenty-first century.  What lessons can we take from them?

Scholars tell us that these letters demonstrate the true meaning of the word catholic.  They underscore the idea that Christ came for all.  Christ heals all who seek him.  Christ loves allChrist answers all who call upon him.  So it follows that if we are Christ we, too, must have a universal view of humankind.

When I think of James, I love that he reminds us to be doers of the word and not sayers only.  We cannot be saved by faith alone.

When I think of Peter, I remember that his letters did not make much sense to me until I had suffered greatly.  Peter, Cephas the Rock, writes so beautifully of the way to suffer properly, of how to make our suffering holy and thus unite ourselves with Christ through the cross so that we become co-redeemers with Christ.

John’s letters, and in particular the first two, are beautiful anthems to love.  They are surfacing as first readings at Mass this week and I am always struck by how they amplify the message of John’s lyrical Gospel, and how they give us a clear understanding that God is love and that love is God.

Jude’s one simple letter tells us how to live in a Christian community, how to beware of false teachers, and how to admonish one another properly.

Taken together or separately, there is much to be gained by sitting with a commentary and an epistle or two on a quiet afternoon to understand the allegory and the message meant for us . . . the modern apostles.

We seek God.  We seek union and intimacy with God.  This cannot be done unless we follow in the footsteps of those who shared bread with the Master.  Jesus came as God’s expression of love to us, his creatures.  He comes to us each day in the persons with whom we interact.  He calls us to be the universal church.

God seeks us.  He seeks union and intimacy with us.  This cannot be done unless we allow our hearts to be open to the potential planted in us.  We go to Jesus each day as we demonstrate our faith by loving God our creator fully.  We go out to Christ each day as we unite with Christ, becoming co-creators of love.  We become the universal church.

Jesus, breath of God, abide with us as we rise, become us as we go about our day, dream with us as we put our head upon the pillow at night.  Jesus, we seek you even as you seek us.  Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on January 11, 2008.

Image from: https://jooinn.com/old-letter-rolls.html

Investigate the Letters of the New Testament at: http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/SFS/an0400.asp

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