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Posts Tagged ‘resurrection’


Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 2, 2021

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_Jésus)_-_James_Tissot

James Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

Three Days

Matthew 15:32 – Jesus feeds thousands who have followed him for three days, hungering for The Word of God. The religious structure collected taxes and burned offerings. The broken-hearted and the displaced were not healed. The marginalized lived at the whim of those with power. There were no social safety nets and little compassion in this ancient society.

Matthew 12:40 – Jesus reminds us that just as Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish so too will the Son of Man pass three days and nights in the heart of the earth.  There is more safety in Jesus’ promise of salvation than any civil or economic structure.

Matthew 26:57-68 – Jesus stands in silence before the Sanhedrin when he is accused of saying that he will rebuild in three days the destroyed temple that took decades to build. When Jesus finally replies that the Son of Man will be seen sitting at God’s right hand, the high priest rends his clothes.  Disbelief and scorn are typical reactions to the savior’s promise.

Matthew 27:39-40 – Those who pass by the crucified Jesus taunt him saying: You who are going to rebuild the temple in three days, save yourself!  Bullying and violence are too often the response to God’s promise of wholeness and newness in Christ.

Matthew 27:62-66 – A guard is established at Jesus’ tomb in order that his compatriots not steal the body and create a false story. “Take a guard,” Pilate says. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how”.  There is no power on earth that can withstand the force of God’s love.

In three days, Jesus rose from the depths of death just as he had promised.  And the miracle of this event is not only that Jesus has risen, but that he carries each of us with him into this new resurrection and new life. Let us give thanks today and all days. Alleluia!


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pharisees_Question_Jesus_(Les_pharisiens_questionnent_J%C3%A9sus)_-_James_Tissot.jpg

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magdalene at the tomb

Rembrandt van Rijn: Christ and Saint Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Presence

John records how Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body but us startled to find an empty tomb. Believing that the body has been stolen, she leaves quickly to alert Peter and John. When the apostles arrive, they find the funeral cloths that had wrapped Jesus’ body the previous evening but still they do not believe in the resurrection. They return home puzzled but Mary remains, weeping.

We are equally surprised by life and its turnings, just as Mary is surprised. We also grapple with the reality before us and struggle to understand the mystery that surrounds us. We also give in to our grief and miss the gift of God’s constant presence.

Two angels ask Mary why she cries, and she answers, describing her grief. Christ then appears and Mary mistakes him for the gardener until he speaks her name. He reminds her that he is going to the Father and he asks that she deliver this good news to the disciples. (John 20)

We are equally overcome by grief and frustration, just as Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. We also mistake the open door and the emptiness for nothingness. We overlook the risen Christ and instead we see an ordinary figure in our ordinary lives.

If we spend time today with this and the other three resurrection stories (Matthew 26, Mark 16 and Luke 24) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded for us. Let us consider the gift of our own resurrection. Let us give thanks for our extraordinary lives that we live in our ordinary way. And let us give thanks for the gift of God’s eternal presence.


Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_20:14

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empty tombWednesday, April 28, 2021

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the description of an angel descending with the rumble of an earthquake as Mary Magdalene “and the other Mary” approach the tomb. The women are frightened and the guards “were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men”.

The angel utters the amazing words: Do not be afraid. He is not here. He is risen and gone to Galilee before you.

The women quickly leave the tomb and encounter the risen Christ on their way to deliver the surprising, but wonderful news to the other disciples. The words of peace are repeated: Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee. The guards accept a bribe and circulate the story of how Jesus’ followers stole the prophet’s body. (Matthew 28)

If we spend time today with this and the other three resurrection stories (Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20) we can compare our own Easter experience to the one recorded for us. As we reflect, let us consider: How do we approach the tomb we believe to be empty? Who greets us? How do we react to these words?  How do we share this story of good news with others?

Tomorrow, the story as told by Mark.


Image from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nZuhnTzJrE

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empty easter tombEaster is an eight day celebration beginning on Easter Sunday, running through the Easter Octave and ending on the Second Sunday of Easter. This tradition reflects the joy the early apostles felt as they experienced the new presence of the Risen Christ. Jesus offers us this same experience today. The Eastertide, or Easter Season, is the forty days from Easter Sunday until the feast of the Ascension. Today we rest in the message of the tomb that appears to be empty.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Empty

John 20:11-13

We give thanks for the miracle of the Easter resurrection. We remember that we rise with Christ in newness. We feel the presence of the Spirit within us. We have made our Lenten journey as we traveled up to Jerusalem, and we have experienced the joy of Easter resurrection. Now we move into our lives in a different way . . .

God gives each of us a talent that brings hope to the world. We are to use it.

God gifts each of us with attributes and a pathway. We are to follow them.

God calls each of us to union in the Spirit. We are to respond immediately and with passion.

God calls each of us from our emptiness to fill us with mercy and joy.

A re-post from Easter Monday 2014.


Today we visit the empty tomb Where the Body Had BeenEnter these words into the blog search bar and explore. 

Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/empty-tomb.html

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TIBERI~1

Sea of Galilee

Thursday, April 15, 2021

John 7:1-9

Within Galilee

Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel to Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him.

We have begun our ascent to Jerusalem and so we gird ourselves for the arduous journey with its dreadful yet glorious end. We have heard the words and woes of Amos and so we understand that change must and will come upon us. We set our feet on the path we have chosen and we step forward with both dread and hope. What do we discover about ourselves and our world that we must change? We believe that we are well aware of the pitfalls we will meet.  We know that there are barriers that will stymie and frustrate us. We realize that if we hope to be made new we leave the refuge we have created for ourselves if we hope to travel up to Jerusalem. We recognize the hostile nature of the world we traverse and yet somehow we feel strangely safer once we commit to moving forward. Still, for a while we determine to remain where we feel safest while we prepare for our moment of boldness when we will allow ourselves to be open to rescue from our old way of living. And so for a time we remain in Galilee . . . while we prepare for our own conversion, change and resurrection. 


 

the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss

Aryeh Weiss: The Second Temple Jerusalem 

For another reflection about resting before our journey to Jerusalem, visit the Resting in Bethany post by entering the words into the blog search bar to explore. 

For more information about the location and nature of Galilee and Judea, go to: Galilee http://bibleatlas.org/galilee.htm and Judea http://bibleatlas.org/judea.htm

The Temple image from: https://pixels.com/featured/the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss.html

Sea of Galilee image from: http://www.christianholyland.com/sea-of-galilee-tour-maps-facts-and-pictures.html

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Ezekiel 37

The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

Along the old Silk Road
The Crescent Oasis: Gobi Desert, China

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part II

Lifeless bones clamber together to form full figures. This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation . . . or so they thought. When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question. What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in a rebirth that occurs quite dramatically. What was thought as lost is found and restored. The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought. The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

What might we do to rise when we believe there is no hope? We call on God who makes all things possible. What might we do when we have stumbled into an oasis we thought was merely a mirage? We continue to follow Christ who carries our burden. How might we validate our new life in the Spirit? We give thanks to God for affirming and claiming our potential.

Ezekiel has much to teach us about the bone-strewn valleys where we see only mirages on the horizon. When we place all hope in God we are not disappointed. When we lean on faith in Christ we are always redeemed. And when we are willing to move forward in the love of the Spirit, we are renewed, restored and rewarded. Let us not shrink from dry bones or the desert wastes in our lives . . . for we may be missing a deep and eternal experience that only the desert oasis can provide.

Tomorrow, the Oracle of Two Sticks.  


Adapted from a reflection written on February 17, 2008.

To visit other desert oases, click on the image above or go to: http://cristinabarkerjones.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/9-most-beautiful-oases-in-the-world/

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Friday, October 30, 2020

091212-impossible[1]Daniel 11

God as the Ultimate Power

The king shall do as he pleases, exalting himself and making himself greater than any god; he shall utter dreadful blasphemies against the God of gods. He shall prosper only till divine wrath is ready, for what is determined must take place. He shall have no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one in whom women delight; for no god shall he have regard, because he shall make himself greater than all.  (Verses 36 and 37)

This portion of Daniel’s prophecy is difficult to follow, even with a commentary, as there are varying opinions about the identity of the three kings of Persia, there are several rulers with the name of Antiochus, and kingdoms in the region are morphing and changing while dynasties rise and fall. It is sufficient to note, however, that the writer here conveys the sense of confusion that the Hellenistic Wars bring about. Syria and Egypt battle over who controls the Jewish kingdom and the little people wonder where and how all the conflict will end. The foreign ruler, King Antiochus, venerated Apollo and Zeus and he even saw himself as the king of Mount Olympus, Zeus/Jupiter. He did as he liked, including the placement of a gargantuan of a pagan god in the Jerusalem Temple. All that once was thought immutable is now changing and here the angel of the Lord tells us, through Daniel, that the Lord God will not be manipulated, controlled or mocked; the Lord is ultimately in control of all and everyone. Those who do not understand this will eventually come to see “this simple portrait of a tyrant, possibly even a mad one, willing and able to work his designs without being challenged even by the gods (v. 37) and yet unaware that his ultimate doom has been sealed in secret by the God who is the master of all of history and whose word is the last as well as the first”. The closing verses of this chapter predict the future and in the following chapter we find “the most important innovation contained in the book of Daniel, the notion of resurrection in 12:1-3”.  (Mays 633)

It strikes us as odd that one who professes to lead as a servant might have so little regard for the small works of beauty and goodness that are significant to the community. These leaders appear to place little value on benchmarks or markers or significant events that a people hold in common. They believe themselves more important than a god like Adonis, the one who sways so many women (Jones 1447).

When we find ourselves in the hands of those who are able to work their designs without being challenged by any entity on earth, we will want to remember that God is the ultimate source of infinite power, and that this power brings with it the gift of new, eternal life. This power generates from profound goodness and self-sacrificing love rather that brute muscle and dispassionate control. This power determines the nature of life and even death itself. And this power brings the gift of resurrection to those who follow faithfully.


Adapted from a reflection written on July 22, 2010.

Image from: http://www.quiettime.org/6243/power/

Jones, Alexander, ed.  THE JERUSALEM BIBLE. New York, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966. 1447. Print.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 633. Print.

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

jobww[1]Job 38:1

Out of the Storm

Then the Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said . . .

In this first of the Wisdom Books there is much to learn.  A loyal and faithful servant is suddenly struck with misfortune and is further beset by a long series of disasters.  Friends berate him; his wife suggests that he curse God and die; yet through all of the adversity Job keeps his eye on God and his heart in God’s hands.  And it is out of the storm that seems to destroy Job that the Lord speaks.

God says: Despite what some may believe I do not delight in the troubles that stalk the world.  Although you may not fully recognize my presence I am with you always.  Regardless of what others tell you, I will not abandon even one of you or take my watchful eye from you.  I accompany you through the heavy times as well as the joyful ones.  Even as the storm of life rages around you I am in the tempest, and it is out of this tempest that I speak to you as I speak to my servant Job to ask: Were you present when the land and her creatures were created . . . were you there when I placed the stars in the heavens . . . have you ever made the sun rise or the tides ebb?  You do not know the intimate details of my plan but know that I hold you in the palm of my hand.  The calamity that appears so enormous to you is as a grain of sand to me and yet from that grain of sand will come a pearl of great price.  Abide with me as Job does . . . and see what plans I have in mind for you.  Plans for you joy and not your woe.

As Paul tells the Romans, and us: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable are God’s ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been God’s counselor?  Or who has given God anything that he may be repaid.  For from God and through God and for God are all things.  To God be glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:30-36)

storm-sunshine[1]Although we cannot hope to comprehend God’s economy, we have hope in the resurrection.  Although we cannot hope to feel God’s immediate presence in the storms that enter our lives, we have hope in God’s love.

Spend time with the Book of Job today, or enter the word Job into the blog search bar and reflect on Job’s story.


For a thumbnail sketch of what happens in this story, click on the storm image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/books/oldtest/psalms/job.htm

Sun image from: http://juliebolduc.com/2012/07/25/sunshine-just-after-the-storm/

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – 2 Corinthians

file[1]Chapter 12, verses 7 to 10 and Chapter 13, verses 5 to 13

“By a barrage of questions, by challenges both serious and ironic, by paradox heaped upon paradox, even by insults hurled at his opponents, [Paul] strives to awaken in his hearers a true sense of values and an appropriate response.” (Senior 275). Sometimes in community we need to do the same. We need to challenge, and we also need to use uncomfortable means to save souls. Yet we do this from a stance of weakness, as Paul says, and not from a position which overpowers. We call, we do not force. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. . . For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong.

Paul and the Jesus community of Corinth struggled within a long, faithful, combative covenant, the one never giving up on the other. Scholars believe that this letter may be a cobbling together of several smaller letters and for that reason may seem disjointed; but it is evident that the people in the community of Corinth kept these missives and read them aloud at their gatherings, even though there are passages that are critical of the Corinthians themselves. These people are a solid example of those who are willing to remain in relationship with one another through trial, beyond criticism, straining toward unity and the formation of community.  Paul says in these verses that his own amazing strength comes from his weakness, and that he relies on this mystery of strength through weakness as it was taught by the risen Jesus.  And it is Jesus who continues to teach this lesson to us each day.

We have been celebrating Eastertide and we have examined the gifts we receive through discipleship.  We move toward the Pentecost event when the Spirit comes to live in intimacy with us.  As we witness the mystery of Christ’s passion and resurrection, and our own redemption and restoration, it is good to look at the closing words of this letter. We recognize some of them as the prayer we hear at Mass just before the kiss of peace.

Rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

And may the peace of Christ be with each of you. Amen.


Image from: http://strengththroughweakness.forumer.com/index.php

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.275. Print.

Adapted from a Noontime written on April 5, 2007

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