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Posts Tagged ‘resurrection’


Isaiah 26Lament and Divine Response

Friday, November 9, 2018

Paraphrasing from the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY: An extensive song of lamentation is followed by an assurance that judgment of the nations will be complete, and that the answers to prayers of Israel’s past will be answered.  It expresses hope for a time of peace and for restoration.  “Within this portrayal is a remarkable affirmation that ‘your dead will rise’ and that divine light will fall on the darkness of the realm of the shades of Sheol . . . The language is a hyperbolic expression of confidence that God will restore the nation of Israel [and] . . . leaves open the other possibilities for later readers who contemplate a more explicit conception of the restoration of the dead with the religious beliefs of Judaism and Christianity”.  (Mays 509)

These words are particularly poignant as yesterday our family and friends formally marked the arrival and death of a little one.  As individuals and as a community we raised our lament to the heavens; and just as surely we received our response.  The words from Isaiah today bring us what we yearn to hear.

He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down . . .

No amount of wealth or power can protect us from the natural course of life which is to die in order that we rise again in full and eternal life.

The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level . . .

Those who seek refuge in God alone when the storm of life descends on them will always find a secure sanctuary against the darkness; and they will rise again to join others in full and eternal life.

My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you . . .

Sinking into our loss, we cry out in our pain as the darkness descends; yet within us the Spirit kindles fresh hope and we know that we will rise again in full and eternal life.

O Lord, you mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done . . .

Turning to the source of our being and looking to the goal of our journey we keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the One who alone calls us forward into full and eternal life.

Salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth . . .

Recognizing that we are powerless, we turn to God, the source of goodness and mercy and light, knowing that we will rise again in full and eternal life.

But your dead shall live, their bodies shall rise; awake and sing you who lie in the dust . . .

We call out to our loved ones to join us, knowing that we will rise again in full and eternal life.

For your dew is a dew of light, and the land of shades gives birth . . .

God answers our wail of lament.  With swift and unswerving fidelity our God reaches down to pull us up out of the darkness . . . to bring us into the light of his full and eternal life.

Let us leave the darkness behind, let us drink in the newness of God’s morning dew . . . and let us abide in the light that fulfills in us the promises of God’s full and eternal life.  Amen.


A re-post from October 7, 2011.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 509. Print. 

Images from: http://luminousinspiration.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/nothing-else/

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Psalm 16Song of Trust and Security in God

From the mini-reflection in today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 369): “When seen in the light of Easter joy, our sins can weigh us down with discouragement.  Yet God’s love does not deal in punishment as human vengeance does.  God’s love disciplines and prunes us in order to free us – sometimes a painful process – so that we might not die like a withered branch but live and bear much fruit in the risen Christ”. 

And from today’s Gospel which is John 15:12-17: It was not you who chose me I but who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another.

We know how difficult change is yet we cannot avoid it for it is inevitable.  We know how difficult life is; in one way or another we experience pain and sorrow daily.  Because life is never free of suffering we might use this kind of pruning to find our best selves.  We know that we exist for a purpose and that purpose is to find our skill set as kingdom builders.  Perhaps we have the idea that we wish to design the architecture in this new kingdom when what God needs from us is that we serve as caretakers of the needy.  Or maybe we hope to serve in some significant organizational role when instead God needs us as harvesters.   Rather than focus on the specifics of our work or on the obstacles to attaining what we wish to attain, we might best focus on God alone instead, for only in God do we find a sheltering place that is secure, permanent and healing.

We do not chose God, God chooses us.  In this we can be secure; this we can trust.  God loves us through the pain of life and not in spite of it.  Let us look beyond our immediate sorrows and desires to see where the boundary lines have fallen.  Let us examine our circumstances to find that we are in pleasant places with a goodly heritage. 

If we are troubled about the pruning that is taking place in our lives today, we may want to turn to God to ask him for the strength to trust God as we ought.  Let us turn to this Psalm to pray . . .

I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.  Amen.


A re-post from October 1, 2011.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.5 (2011): 369. Print. 

Images from: http://christians-in-recovery.org/wp/2011/06/14/general-recovery/never-forsaken/

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Luke 23:50-56Burial

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Yesterday we reflected on the two words Jesus says frequently to us: Follow me . . .

Today we take a look at what we are invited to do as a first step in the resurrection process.  We are invited to our own burial.

Van der Weyden: Descent from the Cross

Scripture – and in particular the New Testament story of Jesus – is full of inversion.  We see many paradoxes in Jesus’ words and actions: We must give up all we have in order to gain the world, those who are broken are strong, leaders are those who serve, we must be willing to die if we want to live.  What appears to be incongruous results in a reality we had not anticipated.

What looks like death is life itself.

I tell you the truth, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John (12:24), unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 

What looks like burial is life itself.

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark (4:30-32)It is the smallest you plant in the ground; yet when planted it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches the birds of the air can perch in its shade. 

What looks like the end is really the beginning. 

The wallpaper image on my computer is the painting Descent from the Cross by Rogier Van der Weyden; I keep it there to remind me of Jesus’ words to us about life, death, and resurrection.  Each time I log on and see the image, I am reminded that we are always in the process of a necessary burial – the first step toward resurrection.  With that image in my mind, it is easier to remember that anything I do in the material world is a reflection of my belief in the spiritual world. As I travel about my digital universe, I carry with me the constant reminder that it is the spiritual world we seek rather than the material.

I am the resurrection and the life, Jesus says to Martha (John 11:25-27).  He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this? he asks.

Martha replies: Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world.

As we reflect on the verses in today’s Noontime and as we look at the expressions on the faces painted on the Van der Weyden canvas, let us take in what we have been told.  It is what those who loved Jesus well are about to fully understand as they lower his body from the cross.  It is the elemental truth that . . . Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

What looks like sorrow will soon be joy.  

The first step toward that joy is our eagerness to unfold the paradox Jesus has given us.  It is our willingness to submit to burial in the life of this world.  It is the full knowing that, like the kernel of wheat, we cannot live until we go into the soil . . . to burst forth again in the new life of Christ.


A re-post from September 1, 2011.

Image from: http://eastofthemoonwestofthesun.blogspot.com/2011/04/day-95-holy-saturday-preparation-for.html 

Further information about the Van der Weyden painting can be found at the following sites or sites of your choosing.  You may want to share some with us.  A good description of the symbolism represented in the characters we see. http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/197

A beautiful slide show through which the viewer can zoom in to see the detail in the cloth, even the tears glistening on cheeks.  http://www.slidingtime.be/ The show is a link from this blog.  http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com/2010/04/rogier-van-der-weydens-descent-from.html

This link gives us more insight into the painting.  http://blogs.artinfo.com/secrethistoryofart/2011/05/06/inside-the-masterpiece-van-der-weydens-descent-from-the-cross/

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Luke 18:1-8The Persistent Widow

Thursday, September 20, 2018

This has for a long time been one of my favorite stories.  Perhaps this is because it has to do with the importance of stamina, something I look for daily.   It is so easy to give up.  And it is so important to continue.

Yesterday I spent pilgrim time with friends renewing the soul and remembering what is accurately the most significant work of each day . . . breathing, living, and remaining in God.  The world so quickly distracts us, and we so easily are drawn away from the only path that can lead us to the tranquility we seek.  In the end, there is only God.

The persistent widow and the unjust judge . . . it is likely that this story has universal appeal because the figures represent archetypal images we see and hear each day.  We relish this story because on any given day we are either the judge or the widow and so we know these roles well.  When we are overwhelmed, cranky, and feeling our “underdog” status we lash out at others, trying to snatch what we perceive to be rightfully ours.  We are the unjust judge.  When we are tired but hopeful and we allow God to smooth away fatigue, we come to understand that we must become the persistent widow.  When we are wounded but determined, we come to know for certain that in the end, there is only God.

Elizabeth Seton

Yesterday’s pilgrimage was to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmittsburg, Maryland, a memorial to a woman with a remarkable story.  http://www.setonshrine.org/  Mother Seton was a familiar friend of both sorrow and joy and the details of her biography illustrate that she fully understood her role as a persistent widow.  Her life is a model for those who are determined to remain close to God knowing that although there will be sadness they will fail at nothing and they will never be alone.  Through the turmoil, strife, happiness, and joy of her journey, Elizabeth Seton recognized that in the end, there is only God.

My granddaughter likes a particular saying and recently I gave her a mug with its words printed in blues and purples: Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.  This granddaughter is wise beyond her years for one so young; she already knows how to be the persistent widow.  She understands the importance of doggedness, the need for perseverance, the sensibleness of diligence.   She – and her mother – believe that in the end, there is only God.  They believe, and try to act in the belief that, restoration and resurrection are God’s healing gift.  I thought of them a great deal on our pilgrimage yesterday.

I am convinced that fatigue is the devil’s companion and that our little demon doubts and anxieties weigh us down to exhaust us.  A cloud of anxiety descends and suddenly we find ourselves believing that there is nothing for us but sadness.  Our eyes become clouded and we act as if we are doomed to a life of sorrow when in reality we are creatures of joy.  Spiritual weariness will tell us that we are worth little and that we are alone.  It will take its toll and lead to inertia . . . and so we must keep moving forward in the journey, always seeking God, always asking for healing and rebirth.   We must ask for manna and feed ourselves, always thanking God.  We must “go away for a little while” as Jesus did, and find pilgrim companions who thirst as we thirst and who understand the importance of nourishing one another, always loving God.

I believe that in today’s parable the unjust judge recognizes God in the widow . . . and so he finds in her favor, hoping that no one will notice or remember what she has said.  I also believe that the persistent widow has nourished herself and bolstered her soul for the journey.  She has slacked her thirst and hunger with the manna of God’s goodness, she has rested awhile in the company of those who know and understand her plight.  In this way she has come to fully understand and to act in the belief . . .  that there is nothing but God.  She fully strengthens herself to once more go up against the enormous obstacle that blocks her path, not worrying about what others think of her, only knowing that . . . in the end, there is only God.


A re-post from August 20, 2011.

Images from: http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105 and http://www.church-on-the-net.com/show-weekly.aspx?ID=105

Other links of interest about Elizabeth Seton: http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/exhibits/womenshall/html/seton.html

http://www.setonshrine.com/ 

 http://www.srcharitycinti.org/about/who_is_elizabeth.htm

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Matthew 28Wonderfully Made

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The truly wonderful part of the resurrection story is that we are a part of it.  This event is not only something that happened two thousand and some years ago.  This story is really about conversion . . . and conversion takes place constantly not only within our own hearts, but it also happens all around us.  For this reason we can sing Psalm 139 that was part of today’s Mass readings: We praise God, for we are wonderfully made.

Jesus’ resurrection is not only his own returning to the Father, it is also our return to the Father (John 17), and so . . . We praise God, for we are wonderfully made.

The guards at the tomb are entirely astonished, not knowing how Jesus’ body was removed from under their noses; but we know . . . and so . . . We praise God, for we are wonderfully made.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary discover the empty tomb and believe that the Lord’s body has been stolen.  The angel tells them: Do not be afraid and so . . . We praise God, for we are wonderfully made.

They run away quickly, fearful yet overjoyed . . . as are we and so . . . We praise God, for we are wonderfully made.

Jesus meets them as they return with the other disciples and they all fall to their knees . . .  as do we . . . and so . . . We praise God, for we are wonderfully made.

The disciples gather in fear and joy in Galilee.  They worship him, but still they doubt.  Somewhere deep inside we see ourselves in Christ and worry that we may be lacking; yet still we find the courage to say . . . We praise God, for we are wonderfully made.

Uncertainty, anxiety, shame and fear.  Jesus recognizes all of these in us and still he chooses to suffer and die so that we might be with him.  If nothing else within us tells us that we are special, this story should.  If nothing else around us affirms our goodness and holiness, this story should.

Hope, joy, courage and patience.  Jesus recognizes all of these in us and for this reason he chooses to suffer and die because he wants to be with us.  If nothing else within us tells us that we are special, this story should.  If no one else around us affirms our worth and our purpose, this story should.

We are wonderfully made . . . we are made to love and be loved . . . we are in God’s image . . . we are sisters and brothers of the risen Lord.  We are fear-filled and awestruck at God’s power.  We are overjoyed and hopeful at God’s presence.  And so . . . We praise God, for we are wonderfully made . . . and wonderfully loved. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 24, 2011.

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Matthew 2:19-20Rise and Go

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Gaetano Gandolfi: Dream of St Joseph

In this Favorite from April 4, 2008, we remember that the Holy Family were refugees in Egypt after the birth of Jesus. We also remember that an angel comes to Joseph with the message that it is time to return to the land of Israel. Today, as we continue to explore how Jesus is the resurrection, we contemplate how our own lives move through times of exile, transfiguration, and return; and just as Mary and Joseph respond to God’s urging, we rise and go when we are called . . . for we are resurrection people.   

We are living through the Resurrection time – the time after Jesus rises from the dead in unity of body and soul and the time that he ascends to heaven.  We are a Resurrection people.  We are immortal.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection: Those who bear the sign of immortality are attractive to others.  People group around them . . . The Resurrected Lord gives a new lightness of the Spirit . . . Easter’s unity . . . This is a sign that little by little, the spirit of Easter is filling our lives and is pushing out the devil who is division and rivalry, jealousy and hate, the incapacity to carry each other’s weight.  The experience of the Resurrection carries a continual note of hope into our lives . . . Hope arises from faith; it is the visibility of faith; it is faith which becomes operative with the present.  Hope is life in action which transfigures the present; it does not permit “victory” of nothingness – delusion, a bitter nostalgia, narcissistic self-contemplation, the desire to do without another person.  Everything which would be a victory for nothingness is forced out by the victory of Christ.  The Spirit of the Risen Lord enters our lives and makes us creators of unity, filled with new creativity and hope for ourselves and therefore for all people. (Monsignor Massimo Camisasca)

We are a Resurrection people.  And just as the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and so many others in scripture, so too do angels appear to us.  They bring the message of hope, of courage  . . . of transfiguration.  We too, may be transfigured in Christ.  We too, can be hope to others.  We too, must trust the Lord as did Joseph and Mary.  We too can respond to the call of Rise and go! 

For we are a Resurrection people. 

Tomorrow, what do we do with our anger?


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.8 (2008). Print.  

Image from: http://russ-ramsey.com/day-20-when-joseph-woke-from-his-dream-reflection-questions-and-art-during-advent/

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Abandoned by God 

Francisco de Zurbarán: Agnus Dei

Easter Friday, April 6, 2018

Adapted from a reflection, entitled Spiritual Warfare, written on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2008.

On Veteran’s Day in the U.S., we celebrate the end of war. Today we reflect on Jesus’ death last Friday, and the silence that reigned in the Christian world last Saturday as Jesus transitioned from healing prophet to the Messiah Christ. If we are able to take the time to pause, we think a bit about the spiritual warfare in which we are all daily engaged. We consider the constant question of whether or not God has deserted a planet created for and in love. We reflect on the many times the world asks Christians . . . where is your God? And so we pray.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

While still on the cross, Christ appealed to the father with this prayer that generations of his people have used while addressing God in times of stress.  In the NABRE the psalm bears the title Prayer of an Innocent Person.  Jesus, the unblemished lamb, dies in innocence, in the act of bringing healing to peoples crying for relief.  But Christ knew, as Paul tells us in Ephesians, Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.  Paul describes the armor of God we must wear as we enter into the warfare each day: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Our feet must be shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  (Ephesians 6)

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Bashan – a land east of the Jordan noted for the size of its animals – provides fierce opposition to the life of a Christian.  Again, Paul reminds us in his letter to Titus how to be consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that . . . [we] be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train [others].  (Titus 2Paul also calls women to a role subordinate to men which was appropriate for the day – and which we now recognize as outmoded in its effect.  The point here is that combat as we witness need not be fierce.  It need only be faithful, prayer-filled, and consistent with the Gospel.

If we might find the minutes to pray this psalm today, we find not only the dark fear of abandonment, but also the burning hope of resurrection.

Tomorrow, proclaiming God’s name.


For more on the meaning of Bashan, visit: https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/bashan/http://biblehub.com/topical/b/bashan.htm , http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/SyriaBashan.htm, and https://www.britannica.com/place/Bashan 

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/francisco-de-zurbaran/agnus-dei-1640 

For more on Zurbarán’s work Agnus Dei, visit The Prado site at: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/agnus-dei/795b841a-ec81-4d10-bd8b-0c7a870e327b 

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Mark 16:1-7: Servant Work – Rolling Away the Stone

Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018

We have witnessed the passion of Jesus, we have heard the promise of covenant fulfillment, and we wait in quiet for resurrection. We rest in the consolation of the Spirit, we turn to one another in our disappointment, and we wait in quiet for resurrection. We plan to go to the tomb to anoint the body of the one who brought promise and healing, we ask who will roll away the stone, and we wait in quiet for resurrection.

From the Complete Jewish Bible: When Shabbat was over, Miryam of Magdala, Miryam the mother of Ya‘akov, and Shlomit bought spices in order to go and anoint Yeshua. Very early the next day, just after sunrise, they went to the tomb. They were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?” 

A rolling-stone grave in Galilee.

Like the women who tend to routine tasks that keep our days moving forward, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the men who wait in fear for consequences they cannot control, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the children who show us the way through darkness, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the disciples who travel to Emmaus, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the apostles who return to their nets and boats, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the servants who know their mission, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the servants who witness and watch, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like all those who follow Christ, we wait in quiet for resurrection and we ask, “Who will roll away the stone?”

Like all those who follow Christ, we wait in quiet for resurrection, we witness to injustice, we pray for our friends and enemies, and we trust that when we arrive at the tomb . . . Jesus himself will have rolled away the stone . . . so that we might step forward as servants in Christ.


Tomorrow, greeted by angels.

Read about the March for Our Lives movement in which the youth of a nation work together to roll away stones once thought unmovable at: https://marchforourlives.com/ 

When we compare other translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the reality that Christ rolls away stones so that his servants might work to build God’s kingdom.

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Tobit 3: Seek Consolation – Death

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet: The Raising of Lazarus

We have sought consolation from paralysis, blindness and deafness. We have looked for peace when we are speechless or plagued by possession. Today we reflect on how we might seek comfort in the face of death or deep loss.

We know the stories of those Jesus raised from the dead while he walked among us as human: his friend Lazarus, the widow of Nain’s son, the synagogue leader Jairus’ daughter. We also know the story of how, through the intercession of the risen Christ, Peter brought Tabitha/Dorcas back from death, and Paul called back Eutychus. When we look at the Old Testament, we remember that Elijah restored life to the widow of Zarephath’s son, and Elisha to the Shunammite woman’s son. And perhaps most importantly, we know that Christ has the power to return each of us to eternal life once we leave this earthly one.

Henry Thomson: The Raising of Jairus’ Daughter

All of this reflection on restoration speaks to our desire to overcome death. It exemplifies our hope that deep loss is not permanent. And it resonates with our expectation that Christ’s love for each of us calls all of us to union with him . . . out of certain death and into certain life. In this holiest of seasons when we celebrate the coming of Jesus to the world, we return to one more story of restoration. The story of Tobit and Sarah.

I have always turned to this Book when I am in the middle of a hopeless situation, when the circumstances in which I find myself offer absolutely no anticipation of salvation for myself or for someone I hold dear.  Each time I spend time with these verses, I come away refreshed by the themes the story offers: healing, restoration, desperate prayers made, and desperate prayers answered.  There are soap-opera elements, cliff-hanging events. There are people focused on money, power and sex; yet, over all of these forces, love holds sway.  And it is the only place in the Bible where Raphael is featured.  He is, indeed, so important that the story cannot take place without him.

James Tissot: The Raising of the Son of the Widow of Nain

So why does this archangel visit these characters disguised as a traveler? How does he bring them hope, rebirth and transformation? What is the attitude of each character before God the Creator? And what might we take away from the lessons laid out here?

If we have to read the whole of Tobit today, let us do so. If not, let us focus on Chapter 3. Tomorrow a Prayer for Death . . . and Birth.

Adapted from a reflection written during Advent 2007.

For a quick re-cap of the Old and New Testament resurrection stories above, visit: https://www.gotquestions.org/raised-from-the-dead.html

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