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Posts Tagged ‘Simon Tugwell’


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Matthew 26:6-13: The Anointing

An alabaster jar

An alabaster jar

A woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil, and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table.

I am noticing something for the first time about chapter 26 of Matthew as we read the story of the conspiracy against Jesus.  Amid the howling, the deceit, the betrayal and the preparation for the last meal followed by the passion . . . there are 7 brief verses . . . an eye in the storm of the hurricane.  Jesus is anointed . . . and even at this moment of respite, his apostles complain.  He tells us what we have heard so often: The poor are with us always, but now the King is among you.  Rejoice!  My death in this life and Resurrection into the next are upon us!  We know that where Jesus goes, we are invited to follow.

Amidst the jangle and turmoil of a terribly difficult passage in his journey, Jesus relies on God and trusts God’s providence.  He fully understands that we are all – including himself – a part of the whole.  He knows that God’s economy will provide redemption for all . . . and that this redemption rests in him.  His love for his sisters and brothers is so authentic and so intense that he sacrifices himself of his own volition. Why do we worry?  Why are we angry?  We have someone who is willing to do all that it takes to redeem us.  We must find and bring our own alabaster jar for the anointing.

From today’s reflection in MAGNIFICAT (Simon Tugwell, O.P.):  God’s providence does not mean that he has got it [life] all planned out in advance, so that our part is simply to follow.  That is the thought that might well drive us to despair: once we had left the right way, who would help us then?  We may think of God’s providence rather in terms of the way in which he integrates all our free choices, mistakes and sins and all, into his plan.  He is that expert dancer who can make dance even out of the stumblings of the most atrocious partner!  Our hatred, our fear, become the occasion of our redemption, as we see so clearly on Calvary.  (Cameron)

This is what Jesus tells his companions in today’s Noontime reading. Rejoice, salvation is at and, the God who made you in his image, the God who walks among you now, the God who watches over you is showing you a Way for you to come together in him.  And you may bring your mistakes with you!  For God is so good and so whole and so just and loving . . . that there is a seat for everyone at the table.

As we prepare for our own Passover and as we enter into the last weeks of Lent, we can rest in the knowledge and the peace that even our stumbling is made holy by God’s love.  God will integrate all of our free choices – be they sensible or insensible, just or unjust.  God will enter into our Easter dance – be it clumsy or elegant, hurried or slow-paced.  God will lead us into Easter rejoicing . . . if only we might follow.

We celebrate this un-named woman who saw salvation before her eyes . . . and honored it.

We trust that we, too, honor this amazing gift of life eternal.

We hope in the Christ, believe in the Creator, and love in the Holy Spirit.

Let us pause for a moment in the whirlwind of our days . . . give thanks . . . anoint one another . . . and follow Christ.  Let us rejoice!


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 1.3 (2008). Print.  

First written on March 12, 2008. Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/01/the-gospel-in-an-alabaster-jar/

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Acts 11: Step by Step

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

El Greco: The Apostles Peter and Paul – The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia

I sometimes become discouraged when the world seems narrow, cruel and bleak.  I sometimes feel as if my hopes and prayers are looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong solutions.  I sometimes cannot believe that I have understood what God has in mind.  So much in this world does not make sense.  And this is when I turn to Acts and the stories of the fledgling church for it is here that God’s will for us is so clear.  It is in these chapters and verses that we witness an incredible burgeoning of Spirit and an amazingly tenacious church.  A small band of ordinary people begin an extraordinary movement.  I wonder if they would succeed in the world we know today.

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s fledgling Church, his new and blushing bride.  Many new members are joining and the persecutor Saul has become the advocate Paul.  The first major breach has occurred and now step by step (verse 4) Peter gets to the heart of his message: The resurrection is not only meant for the Christ; it is a gift given to each of us by the Creator . . . and our first step toward this gift is our baptism in the Spirit.  Peter explains the message he received from God in a vision and wraps up his thinking with one on my favorite verses: Who was I to hinder God? 

The Church undergoes persecution in Antioch, the place where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians.  Stephen has been stoned and is the Church’s first martyr.  Barnabas continues as a loyal preacher of the Story, adding members to the Church.  Step by step, with patience, perseverance, and boldness, these early founders move gently but firmly as they form Christ’s Bride – the Church.  Prayers are answered.  Miracles happen.  Prayers are asked and answered, although not always understood.  The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways.   I need to remember these lessons when I feel deserted, overwhelmed or lost.

Often we should not really be able to recognize an answer to prayer if it came.  Maybe the Holy Spirit was using our little prayer for some much larger purpose, of his own, and his prayer may be answered even if our little prayer seems to remain unnoticed.  It is in God’s hands from start to finish, and we must accept that and not try to wrest it from him.

  Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.  Dominican priest, author of books on theology and spirituality, member of Dominican, Historical Institute, MAGNIFICAT  Meditation, May 15, 2010

We are cogs on the wheels of Christ’s Church at work and we have the freedom to choose how we go about completing our daily rounds.  We can choose to churn in place and stubbornly hold up the works, or we might move as we are asked.  Who are we to hinder God? 

We are part of the great fire that Christ brought to earth and we may fling ourselves at our work, burning out like a spark that leaps out into the night sky to extinguish itself quickly on the damp ground.  Or we might choose to stay close to the heart of the flames when banked for the night to hunker down when fuel is low, hugging close to the origin, joining with the other faithful embers who lie together, glowing and waiting through the dark and cold . . . to spring to life again with new wood and the coming of the morning light and wind.  Who are we to hinder God? 

Patience, perseverance, boldness.  These are the marching orders for Christ’s embattled and struggling Church, his faithful and hope-filled bride.  Who are we to hinder God? 


A re-post from May 7, 2012.

Image from: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_3_1_2a.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.15 (2010). Print.  

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Exodus 40:1-31Liturgy

Thursday, February 21, 2019

I smile as I read about selvages, alternating bells and pomegranates, gold beaten into fibers that are then threaded through fabric, ring fasteners, and even the situating of the breastplate at the proper point in relation to the belt . . . and all of this by God’s command.  There must be fashion in heaven, and it must be important!

I have taken an interest in vestments lately with the arrival of our new pastor – who is tall and slender and carries flowing robes well.  His stature is so different from the former pastor who was short and round.  This new priest brings with him an understanding of liturgy and how it helps to both call and form us.  He knows that it is so much more than ritual.  He understands that as we participate we prepare ourselves for a greater, deeper, and more intense relationship with God.  Liturgy prepares us for heaven.

As I re-read this description I am recalling something I read in the November MAGNIFICAT (the 19th) written by Father Simon Tugwell, O.P., and it is entitled: The Temple is for Liturgy.

Liturgy is essentially something given, and in this expresses a fundamental feature of all prayer.  Its sublime lack of of concern for our personal moods is a forcible reminder that when we come to God, it is not to force our moods or our interests on to him, but to receive his interests and to let him, in a sense, share his moods with us . . . It is far more central to prayer that we should let ourselves become involved in God, in his great enterprise of giving himself, and all the various interests and concerns that form part of this.  It is therefore a positive advantage that the liturgy does not just reflect our own concerns and interests, but confronts us with definite moods of its own . . . The liturgy, faithfully celebrated, should be a long-term course in heart-expansion, making us more and more capable of the totality of love that there is in the heart of Christ.  It is not the immediate feeling that is important; that may or may not come.  What matters is that we should be, slowly and quietly, molded by this rehearsal for and anticipation of the worship of heaven.  It is a schooling for paradise.

We have reflected on Nehemiah’s re-building of Jerusalem and the temple as his participation in the greatest enterprise of all – God’s enterprise.  Today we read the description of the temple vestments and pause to reflect on the importance of worship in our lives.  Liturgy is more than merely gathering to pray together.  It is more than dressing up or dressing down, arriving early or arriving late.  It is more than recitation, singing, spontaneous praying.  It is, as Father Tugwell so well writes . . . an education, a discipline for our ultimate relationship with God.  As we gather our moods, our concerns and ourselves in a holy and sacred place, so do we also practice and refine our role in God’s great enterprise.


A favorite posted on November 29, 2011.  

Images from: http://www.ourladylovesyou.org/communities/southtexas/blogger/2009_10_01_archive.html

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 19 November 2010: 273. Print.

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