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Posts Tagged ‘pilgrimage’


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Acts 21:17-26Going Up to Jerusalem – Part II

Rembrandt: Two Old Men Disputing (Saints Peter and Paul)

Rembrandt: Two Old Men Disputing (Saints Peter and Paul)

In the Book of Acts we see the Jerusalem Jewish Christians struggle with the established, powerful Old Guard structure.  The upstart religious sect condemns the established organization for its corruption, its desire to control, and its refusal to hear the word of God as expressed in the person of Jesus.  Ironically, Paul comes to these same early Christians to tell them that he has spoken with the risen Christ and the young church nearly rejects Paul’s message.  They become just like the Pharisees and Sadducees before them and initially they put aside the Jesus message which Paul brings.  Providentially they realize that Paul is genuine and they agree on a solution to their conflict.  A good study Bible with reliable commentary will walk you through the twists and circles of those disagreements but today we look at this point: unity is achieved in the early church because of the conflict through which they struggle; this early conflict in which they find common ground does not weaken them but rather it strengthens their tiny movement.

How many times does this happen to us?  How many times do we do precisely what we condemn others for doing?  How many times does a revolution take place only to be followed by a punitive system set up by the rebels who fought in the name of freedom?  How many times do we miss one screaming arrow only to run into another?  And how many times do we classify conflict as a struggle to be won, rather than an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and others?

We have begun our annual ascent to Jerusalem and we have heard grumblings among the various pilgrim groups with which we journey.  We have embarked on a journey of forty days saying that we want to strip away all that distracts us from communing with God.  We have fasted, prayed, given alms, and sought answers to piercing questions . . . and we have avoided conflict whenever it presents itself.

As the story in Acts tells us today, we will encounter obstacles even on pilgrimage when we have put all of our best intentions forward and brought all of our best efforts to bear.  And rather than ignore, fear, or skirt around these barriers we need to examine them closely, seek wider commentary, ask God for wisdom, and then come to an agreement about how we might remove the hurdle from our common path.  We know that Jesus’ family traveled up to Jerusalem with other families so that they might be safe from bandits and marauders along the way.  Surely they did not all agree on where to stop for the night, which river crossing was best, or who ought to choose which turning to take at the crossroad; yet somehow they arrived.  And so must we.

We are travelling up to Jerusalem today.  Let us embrace the conflicts we encounter.  Let us listen to one another.  And let us remember that unity born of conflict can strengthen a tiny bad of sisters and brothers when we seek the common good and rely on God.

Tomorrow: A world-wide church is born out of an arrest.


For more on the conflict between Paul and Peter, click on the image above or go to: http://timgombis.com/2011/07/24/was-paul-a-doctrinal-watchdog/

To learn more about Jerusalem, visit Victor’s Place blog and read the November 13 post on exploring the city at: http://vhoagland.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/exploring-jerusalem-november-13/

Today’s post is part of the December 16, 2007 Noontime reflection.

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Sirach 31:1-11: Wealth

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

From the notes in the New American Bible: Solicitude for acquiring wealth and anxiety over preserving it disturb repose and easily lead to sin and ruin.  See Matthew 6:26-34.  A rich man who has not sinned or been seduced by wealth is worthy of praise (8-11).

At first glance we will read this advice from Jesus ben Sirach along with this story from the Book of Matthew and we will check it off as one of the ways we are confident that we do not allow ourselves to become separate from God.  We have kept money in its proper place in life.  We are careful to render both to Caesar and to God.  But now I go a step further.  Where in my life do I amass wealth . . . and do I let it color my decisions in any way?

Lent, as we have been observing over the past weeks, is the perfect time to take an interior pilgrimage to examine dusty corners and cabinets full of things we have forgotten.  As I unlock files of memories I thought were well-sorted and archived, I discover some old injuries and wounds.  Perhaps I have hoarded these, thinking that by keeping them from the light I have prevented them from maintaining safe harbor in my dreams.  Have they taken on a life which seduces me?  Do I spend time keeping watch over them to keep them from escaping my control, or do I trust God enough to release them into the present winds?

Anything which we store up is where our heart lies (Luke 12:34) so this causes me to wonder . . . Where have I put my energies and talents?  What do I lose sleep over?  What do I protect from moths and thieves?  What do I take to the granary to keep?  What do I measure out with care?

If when we open the storehouse doors we find the silos are full of petitions answered and hopes fulfilled, this is a sign of God’s blessing on us and this is good news indeed.  If the stores are meager, that is fine . . . we only need to begin today to bring the harvest of our lives.  God is so loving that he pays all workers in the vineyard equally . . . no matter the number of hours spent at the vines.

And once we begin to see the balance sheet rise to numbers higher than we might have imagined, what do we do then?  Do we seal up the bins and vats to put them away for another quick glance on another day?  Do we cover over the chinks to keep every grain inside the tower . . . or do we fling open the doors as our father does with his own bounty, to share what has been given?  What kind of harvester is he or she who has much but who is not seduced?

Who is he that we may praise him?  He, of all his kindred, has done wonders, for he has been tested by gold and come off safe, and this remains his glory; he could have sinned but did not, could have done evil but would not, so that his possessions are secure, and the assembly recounts his praises.

The wealth we store is the wealth we have to share.  What we have been freely given, we must freely give (Matthew 10:8).

When we go to the storeroom today . . . what will we find . . . and what will we share?


A re-post written on March 19, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Image from: http://www.nri.org/projects/wrs/publications.htm

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

661v-at150[1]Psalm 50

A Prayer for Sacrifice

“Just as physical hunger is an indication of a living, healthy organism, so spiritual hunger is a sign of a robust spirit, one that is active and continually developing.  The soul which feels no hunger for God, no need to seek him and to find him, and which does not vibrate or suffer with anxiety in its search, does not bear within itself the signs of the Resurrection.  It is a dead soul, or at least one which has been weakened and rendered insensible by lukewarm-ness”.

MAGNIFICAT Meditation, Fr. Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene, O.C.D.

What do we do when we feel that God is not listening?  We might turn away, become angry or depressed; we might even curse God in the belief that we have been deceived.  Yet these are the acts of petulant children.  So what must we do?  We must praise God still.

What do we do when we encounter God on our pilgrimage, even when we do not know at the time that it is God who works, plays, prays beside us?  We might explain away the miraculous touch of his visit.  We might take credit for God’s work in our lives by telling others that our good fortune is due to our own sweat and brains.  Yet these are the acts of spoiled children.  So what must we do? We must acclaim God still.

What do we do when we realize that God has just brushed by us, and we were so enmeshed with living that we did not take proper notice?  We might excuse ourselves saying that we have too much work to pause, too many worries to reflect, too many tasks on our list of chores.  Yet these would be the acts of self-centered children.  So what must we do?  We must applaud God still.

How might we behave when we feel as though God ignores us?  We consider that we thirst, we consider that we hunger and we translate this sense of loss into a pining for the Living God.  We consider that we are experiencing our own Resurrection and so we praise God.  We consider that God accepts our burnt offerings of the thousand little and big ways that we suffer daily for Christ and so we acclaim God.  We consider that we are experiencing spiritual hunger and for this we thank and applaud the Living God.  For it is this yearning, this desire, this hunger which awakens the soul . . . and saves it from any lukewarm-ness. 

And so we pray,

Generous and loving God, save us from our petulant selves and bring us close to you. 

Patient and gentle God, rescue us from our spoiled selves and keep us ever in your presence. 

Powerful and omniscient God, redeem us from our self-centered selves and remind us to give thanks to you.  

Eternal and serene God, transform us from our insensible selves so that we might always live and act in you.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 26, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.3 (2008). Print.

 For more information about the papyrus fragment of Psalm 50 above, click on the image above or go to the Duke Papyrus Archive at: http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/scriptorium/papyrus/texts/homepage.html 

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012 – Luke 6:12-16 – Going Out to the Mountain

Written on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Now during those days, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray . . .

This is something to linger with as we begin the season of Lent today, a season in which we traditionally spend much quiet time reflecting on how we might change the way in which we approach life.  On Ash Wednesday, Christians mark their foreheads with the ashes from the previous year’s palms as a sign of their willingness to examine themselves and their habits.  Today in our school prayer service we began to look at this season as a pilgrimage we choose to make much like the one made by one of our fellow teachers last summer in northern Spain, the Camino de Santiago.  As pilgrims move along the specified route they must look for kilometer markers and yellow arrows that point the way and designate distance.  As we watched the video that documented her journey, we could see that some Santiago markers – and the roadway – were obvious and easy to follow.  At other times however, the arrows were barely visible and the path bifurcated, creating doubt about which course was the proper one to follow. 

The Camino de Santiago winds through forests and fields, it scuttles alongside and across streams, it climbs hills and falls into valleys, it twists through back yards and front yards.  Cows, horses, cats, dogs and sheep greet pilgrims; wild flowers and stands of tall trees appear as signs of God’s presence for those who are willing to see them.  And all the while the pilgrim relies not only on the markers for guidance but also on the people who play and work along the way.  The pilgrim must trust God, must trust those who live along the route and know its intricacies, and ultimately the pilgrim trusts his or her instincts to determine the way ahead.  This way is often confusing for sometimes the path is invisible . . . just as in life.

Los caminos de Santiago

In Jesus’ time, the Jewish people made an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Passover season to atone, to worship and to reconnect with God.  It was on one of these journeys that Jesus’ family inadvertently left him behind in the temple.  In today’s Noontime we watch Jesus make a small pilgrimage to the mountain to spend time with God before he chooses the twelve who will journey with him to his own crucifixion and resurrection.  We see Jesus ask for and then take counsel – just as any of us must – when he understands that the way ahead will be difficult and unclear.  

Even the Christ who is divine knows that he must connect with the creator before moving forward.  Even Jesus, the son of the divine, understands that he must go out to the mountain – a traditional place where one meets God – to petition and receive grace for the journey and food for the road. 

As we enter into Lent today, let us determine to out to the mountain before we begin our homeward passage.  Let us examine what we will want to change and how.  And let us rely on God alone to provide us with guiding markers in a world full of paths that twist and turn into the unknown.

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