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Second Sunday of Easter, April 19, 2020

Jesus%20with%20the%20Disciples_discipleship[1]Matthew 13:16-17: Privilege

Discipleship work is the fulfillment of Old Testament covenant.  It is arduous and difficult work fueled by God’s promise to ancient peoples.

Discipleship work is the flourishing of the voices of the prophets.  It is expectant waiting rising from God’s promise to faithful servants.

Discipleship work is full of conflict.  It is all raw edges and bare emotion.  It is holding one’s self in and pouring one’s self out in the same crucible moment.

Discipleship work is full of power.  It is primal force reckoning with modern circumstances. It is the bowing to God’s omniscience and authority while loving God’s marginalized.

Discipleship work is chaotic and serene.  It is point counterpoint all in one graceful movement.  It is dire and blessed.  Dangerous and supremely secure.  It is human and divine.

dare-to-be-a-disciple-story-3-pic[1]Discipleship work is God’s work.  It is our sublime celebration of Easter.

Discipleship work is our full service to God’s humanity.  It is the highest of callings.

Discipleship is sorrow.

Discipleship is joy.

Discipleship is privilege.  Purely and simple.  Clearly and authentically.

Let us respond to God’s call to discipleship with readiness, zeal, and joy.


Tomorrow we will begin to reflect on the gifts we receive through our work as disciples.  We begin with Meekness.

For more reflections on our unique privilege of service to God, go to the blog search box and enter the words Disciple or Discipleship.

Images from: http://www.blakeandkaty.com/buckshot-discipleship and http://dna-21.org/

A re-post from April 19, 2013.

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Amos 3: This World . . . and the Next

Monday, July 2, 2018

Each time we visit this prophecy we have the opportunity to hear God speak to us on the topic of social justice.  For they know not how to do what is right . . . storing up in their castles what they have extorted and robbed.  The gathering of wealth at the expense of others is something many of us may not want to ponder.  We may not want to think about how much we have stored up in our homes and in our accounts that may have arrived in our hands because someone somewhere struggled to make ends meet on low wages.  We may want to open our IRA statement without wondering if the dividends were partially gained or fully gained on the backs of those who have no political or social voice.  In each news cycle we can find stories about companies and individuals who happily ignore today’s message.  Companies keep double books in order to hide their safety infractions (http://www.connectmidmissouri.com/news/story.aspx?id=635646 ), priests are involved in sex scandals (http://www.americancatholic.org/news/clergysexabuse/  ), scientists squabble over the truth or lie of global warming and the consequences for our planet (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/).  There is an endless stream of information that asks us to think about how we act.  Today’s Noontime tells us that there is nothing new in this.  For millennia we humans have been taking advantage of one another . . . and hoping all the while that no one sees us.  Amos reminds us that God sees all.

When we turn blind eyes to corruption we have forgotten that our actions have consequences, and Jesus reminds us of this with a number of parables defining stewardship.  One story in Luke 16 even demonstrates how a corrupt steward bargains with his master’s debtors in order to save himself.  And while Jesus does not make the case that the wealthy do not go to heaven, he does plainly say (Matthew 19:23, Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25) that a rich man will have to bend a bit and be willing to sacrifice as a camel does to enter the eye of the needle.  (This is likely a reference to the pedestrian door in a large city gate – the camel will have to pass through on its knees.)  Jesus tells us that all of us are called to humility no matter our station in life . . . and so we ought to become accustomed to putting ourselves last rather than first, to serving rather than expecting to be served.

The picture of the world that Amos describes is a world gone mad with greed and envy; God will eradicate all that has been stored in silos and greenhouses, ivory apartments and summer houses.  The enemy shall strip you of your strength and pillage your castles.  Jesus paints another possibility for us.  He describes a world in which we think of one another before self, in which we pray for our enemies rather than condemn them.  And this is a prospect that all us might welcome.  Even those who are so self-centered as to be narcissists might pause to think . . . how much better it is to share what we have rather than to lose all.  But in our striving to survive we so often forget that in this finite world we prepare for the next.  We either conveniently forget, or we willfully ignore, the words we hear today: There is a consequence for what we say and think and do . . . and woe to those who take advantage of the marginalized who have no voice.

I have shared with a number of my friends that I honestly believe that our lives on this planet are a complex, interlocking dress rehearsal for the real life which follows; and that if we do not learn the art of sharing as God asks on this planet then we will still have to learn this in the next dimension.  I believe that we are living in a complicated laboratory which is full of hypotheses and lesson plans for us to learn the art of love as presented to us by God among us, Jesus.  I believe that if we struggle to tend to the despair of the great disorder within our society today . . . we are already living in the kingdom we thought was only a dream.

If we believe this world is beyond hope . . . let us act as if we are living in the next . . .


Image from: http://www.all-creatures.org/hope/

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 2, 2011.

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Joy and Libation


Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: St. Paul Writing his Epistles

Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne: St. Paul Writing his Epistles

Friday

January 2, 2015

Joy and Libation

Philippians

 The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given. With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow.

Imprisoned when writing this letter to the Philippians, Paul maintains confidence in the power of Christ to rescue and heal. “This beautiful letter is rich in insights into Paul’s theology and his apostolic love and concern for the gospel and his converts. [Paul] reveals his human sensitivity and tenderness, his enthusiasm for Christ as the key to life and death, and his deep feeling for those in Christ who dwell in Philippi. With them he shares his hope and convictions, his anxieties and fears, revealing the total confidence in Christ that constitutes faith”. (Senior 311-312)

It is likely that Paul’s letter brought concern for his welfare to the little Jewish community that Paul had established in this important Roman town in what is today northeastern Greece. It is also likely that his words brought the Philippians a bit of discomfort as he exhorts them to think of others before selves and to put aside disagreements in favor of unity; yet his energy and passion are undeniable.

Paul writes: (1:25): This I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith. (2:1-3) If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves. (2:17-18) But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

joyPaul writes to the followers in Philippi and he writes to us. United in heart. Living from selflessness rather than ego. Passionate in our response to Christ’s call. Pouring ourselves out as libations for Christ just as Christ empties himself to rescue us. In his time of trial, fear and weariness, Paul calls us to unity, service, and a deep giving of self with undeniable enthusiasm. What will we do today as a libation for Christ? How do we extend to others this same passionate call to unity and service?

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.311-312. Print.   

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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