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Posts Tagged ‘Salome’


Matthew 20:17-28: Prediction

Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 7, 2019

A re-post from Holy Week 2012 . . . 

Thursday and Friday evenings as I stepped off the church walkway and into the darkness I realized that the night sky was not as dark as usual.  The large Paschal Moon hovered over the campus, challenging the brightness of the large, artificial, man-made lamp stands.  Having stayed later than most worshipers to spend a bit of extra time reflecting, I was nearly alone on the campus . . . and I said a small, quiet prayer to the Creator for all the gifts I so easily use that he has so lovingly given.  It was a sacred moment which I wanted to hold, much as the apostles wanted to hold the beauty and fullness of The Transfiguration.  We who live in a place where food and peace are aplenty have much to be grateful for.  We who are called to labor in the vineyard of the one who knows us intimately have much to be faithful to.  We who are so well-loved and guided in the Spirit have much to be hopeful in. God’s justice, Jesus’ compassion and the Spirit’s fidelity can be counted on  . . . always  . . . this we can predict. Just as Jesus’ predicted his own passion, so too can we predict our own struggle with loved ones, colleagues and strangers . . . and our own struggle to follow Christ.

Hans Suess von Kolmbach: Mary Salome and Zebedee with their sons James the Greater and John the Evangelist

Perhaps the Sons of Zebedee today give us a picture of our relationship with Jesus, or maybe we better see ourselves as their mother, Salome.  Like the early friends and relatives of Jesus, we often do not see the consequences of our requests; and we are surprised and even angry at the twists and turns of fate that seem to us to be capricious gods that play havoc with our hopes and dreams.  We become bogged down and may even wallow in self-pity and indignation when events and people beyond our control disrupt our plans.  We see that what we had predicted for ourselves is somehow not budding, is for some reason refusing to come to fruition.  We blame all sorts of people and circumstances, all the while neglecting to give thanks for the one sure thing that we can all predict with ease:  we will be loved always, we will be cared for and rescued always, and we will live in eternal union with our brother, the Christ.  What a great, and awesome and marvelous God we have.   What a sureness.  What a constancy.  What a greatness. What a God!

The full Easter moon rides high across the skies during this extraordinary season of forgiveness.  Its cool light breaks through the darkness, telling us of the daytime sun that bathes the opposing side of the globe.  The tin-tinted orb reminds us that even when we do not feel the warmth and brilliance of Jesus he is with us anyway.

The Paschal Moon rises just as expected, just as predicted.  God guides and protects us, just as expected, just as predicted.  Jesus sacrifices self and rescues us, just as expected, just as predicted.  The Holy Spirit abides with us and graces us, just as expected, just as predicted.  Discipleship will be difficult and arduous . . . just as expected, just as predicted.  The reward for fidelity will be greater than we have ever imagined . . . just as expected . . . just as predicted.  All of this we can foretell with certainty.  The events of our lives, the time and manner of our dying, the size of our income, and the number of our days we cannot.  So tonight, if the sky is clear, step outside your door for just a moment to search the heavens for the Paschal Moon and remember all that has been predicted.  And in the hush and quiet of that moment let us recall all that we have requested and all that we have been given.  And let us pray:

Jesus dies, Jesus rises.  We are saved.  We are loved.  And all . . . just as expected . . . just as predicted.  Amen.


For an inspirational reflection on Salome and her sons, click on the image of the Zebedee family above or go to: http://teamnoah.info/Stirred/ms.html

To learn more about how the date for Easter is chosen, click on the image above or go to: http://news.yahoo.com/moon-affects-date-easter-131202555.html

For the names of the full moons and what these names mean, go to: http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/ 

Images from: http://news.yahoo.com/moon-affects-date-easter-131202555.html and http://teamnoah.info/Stirred/ms.html

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Matthew 11: A Message of Healing

Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2016

Guercino: Saint John the Baptist in Prison Visited by Salome

Guercino: Saint John the Baptist in Prison Visited by Salomé

John the Baptist was imprisoned and when he got wind of what Jesus was doing, he sent his own disciples to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?” (MSG) This week we are given an opportunity to give our own testimony.

When we read these ancient verses we tend to leave them in the past where they were first spoken and written, forgetting that Christ still lives among us to heal and bless. Just as Jesus spoke to John’s disciples, he speaks to each of us today.

Jesus told them, “Go back and tell John what’s going on:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.

“Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!” (MSG)

Like John’s disciples, we may stand in disbelief, wanting evidence, weighing the promise against the reality of the moment. So Jesus continues.

“Go back and tell John what you are hearing and seeing: the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean,[a] the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor. How happy are those who have no doubts about me!” (GNT)

Like John’s disciples, we watch Jesus’ face, suspecting that his words are only words, hoping that his words bring the healing and grace we so need individually and collectively. So Jesus asks us a question.

Tell me, what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes indeed, but you saw much more than a prophet. (GNT)

Today we have the opportunity to consider what we have witnessed. We have the opportunity to consider what we believe. And we have the opportunity to act on this belief.

The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed! (MSG)

On this third Sunday in Advent when we celebrate the joy of God’s message, let us decide to believe in the healing message of Christ.

When we explore differing translations of these verses, we discover a message of restoration and compassion that we have been longing to hear. When we take in the meaning of these verses, we open ourselves to the healing and redemption Jesus promises.

For interesting information on the sale of this painting through Sotheby’s, read THE ECONOMIST article, “Schemers and Squinters,” by clicking on the image or visiting: http://www.economist.com/node/12917657

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Sunday, September 9, 2012 – Obadiah – Revenge and Forgiveness

French School, 17th Century: Salomé

More thoughts on Saloméwho sought revenge . . . and who asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.   

“We know nothing about Obadiah beyond his name, nor is the place of the book’s composition certain . . . Obadiah did not specify that his message came at the time of any specific king or event.  On the other hand Obadiah 11-14 indicates that a major calamity had struck Judah and that the Edomites had capitalized on Judah’s troubles to their own advantage . . . common sense and a broad consensus suggest that the calamity was in fact the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. 

“Obadiah was written to the people of Judah about the Edomites (descendents of Esau), condemning them for their treachery and violence toward the people of Judah, as well as for their arrogance and indifference toward God”.  (Zondervan 1464)

This is the kind of prophecy which makes us cringe as we understand that revenge is not something we want as part of our value complex.  Seeking vengeance is the kind of thinking my parents continually warned us against for it can never be good.  We were often reminded in our growing years that when we dig a grave for our enemy we ought to dig two: one for them and one for us.  “The truth will always come out in the end”, Dad would remind us. “Don’t worry about the other guy getting credit that is not due him, or the other guy getting away with things.  It’ll all come out in the end.  Just keep your eye on yourself and your God.  And let God handle the other guy”. Dad warned us that human depravity was too crooked and too frightening for us to correct; he knew from personal experience that only God can deal effectively with deep evil.  We humans – even when we are in the best of places and times – cannot conquer forces that have spent eons gathering strength in the dark.  It is far better, according to Dad, to go to the light and stay there.  “That way God can see you and pick you up on his way home”.

Mother always intoned her mantra of “Kill your enemies with kindness.  Pray for them and you will never be alone; because you can bet on it that when people are that naughty lots of people will be praying along with you.  Think of the message God will hear when all those voices join together”, she would remind us.   “Yes, I know you want to get back at them but just pray for them. They will need your prayers.  And besides, the results are better”. 

These simple lessons were either never delivered or they were lost on Salomé who asked for and received John the Baptist’s head on a platter.  Yesterday we spent time reflecting on her portrait and we saw her sultry stare and sullen posture, arms draped around the killing knife and the platter that would deliver the head of her enemy.  Today we  see a similar likeness; she looks out at us in apparent satisfaction yet we know that revenge is not sweet.  It does not last and it does not satisfy.  It only brings about our own destruction and doom.  These are the truths spoken by Obadiah more than two millennia ago . . . and they are truths we can still use today.  We must wipe revenge from our hearts and replace it with forgiveness for the measure that we measure with is measured out to us. 

And so we pray . . .

When we are most hurt by others, we must not strike back, we must forgive.

When we are most neglected by others, we must not plot their downfall, we must forgive.

When we are most abused by others, we must ask for their redemption and we must forgive.

When we are most abandoned by others, we must not treat them in like fashion, we must forgive.

When we are most damaged by others, we must not in turn inflict damage, we must forgive.

God forgives.  God restores.  God repairs.  God cures.  We are each called to do the same.  Amen.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1464. Print.

For more on the prophecy of Obadiah go to the Obadiah – Outrageous Hope page on this blog.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012 – Matthew 14:3-12 – The Death of John the Baptist

Henri Regnault: Salomé

Confident and startling, sulky and sultry, alluring and fear-inspiring, dappled with light and yet somehow dark, gifted with beauty and talent . . . yet drawn to revenge and self-interest. As we read these verses that tell us of the death of John the Baptist, and as we look at this beautiful yet horrifying painting of Salomé we might ask ourselves where we stand in this story.  We cannot take our eyes from the platter and knife.  Has she already washed them clean or is she holding them in anticipation?  Has she known that Herod is in the mood to grant wishes this evening or does she plant the seed of the idea somehow days in advance?  Does she choreograph her dance to play on the king’s drunken frame of mind?

Plotters lie in wait for years if need be; those who seek vengeance have infinite patience and determination.  They use any means and they go to any lengths to achieve their purpose.  

What do we say to Salomé if anything?  What do we do in this moment of terrible waiting?  Do we speak or do we remain silent in fear?  Are we distressed as is the king?  Do we encourage Salomé as does Herodias? Do we gloat?  Do we smile?  Do we turn away?  Do we cry?

Prompted by her mother . . .

How and what do we enact in peace?

Because of his oaths and the guests who were present . . .

Why do we allow society’s pressures to squeeze us into places of no return?

Give me here on a platter . . .

What terrible requests do we make of God in our moments of anger and fear?  What petitions do we lay before him?  Does our whispering instigate devious plans or do we speak and work for peace and reconciliation at all cost?

Let us spend some time today with Salomé and wonder who we are and where we stand.  And let us consider what it is we might ask for on shinning bright platters. 

To read more about Henri Regnault and his work, click on the image above or go to:  http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/16.95

 

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