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Posts Tagged ‘The Way’


John 14: Jesus is The Way

Thursday, May 17, 2018

This week we continue our exploration of the manner in which Jesus describes himself, helping us to find our beyond the obstacles on our path, to accompany one another in both sorrow and joy, to give thanks for God’s always present power.

We ask which way to go, how to speak, what to do with what we hear and see; and Jesus speaks constantly in our ear. When we question, we receive. When we knock on the door, it opens. When we seek, we find.

Jesus answered [Thomas], “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. Now that you have known me,” he said to them, “you will know my Father also, and from now on you do know him and you have seen him.” Jesus answered [Philip], “For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know me?”

We are astounded by Jesus’ confidence and long for his compassion. We are eager for Jesus’ friendship and rely on his wisdom. We are hopeful in Jesus’ message and give thanks for his understanding.

Jesus told them, “Do not be worried and upset. Believe in God and believe also in me”. 

These words are so well known. They are straightforward and astounding. They promise the unthinkable and spell out the profound.

We constantly look for the Spirit’s presence and miracles; yet we too often give up on following The Way that lies before us. Yesterday we remembered the guidance we receive from Jesus, The Good Shepherd. Today we step boldly onto Christ’s Way.


Tomorrow, finding our Way.

Image from: http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-jesus-is-way-and-how-he-is-truth.html

 

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John 10:1-21The Good Shepherd

Monday, May 14, 2018

This week we explore the manner in which Jesus defines himself, helping us to better understand the importance of his presence in our lives, to better take in the enormity of God’s love for us, and to better open ourselves to the healing power of the Spirit. Today we share this reflection adapted from a Favorite written on August 6, 2007. 

This was the Gospel reading at my mother’s funeral mass – and it is one of my favorite readings.  Perhaps it is yours as well.  There are several verses I like in particular.

With today’s he reference to the gate, we might also think of Jesus as “The Narrow Gate,” the Way by which we might live this life.  Christ’s constant call to forgive and love those who injure us, to always begin again in the Spirit, is heard – sooner or later – by those he calls. Many of us hear this message later, but no matter our circumstances, Christ is always ready to guide us back into the sheepfold.

In this reading, I like the way Jesus explains his own imagery.  We can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for this man to repeat himself in so many ways and have so few truly hear him.  Here we see Jesus as patient and clear, saying that not only does he speak from God the Father’s authority, but that he IS the New Law of Love, fulfilling and superseding the Mosaic Law.

Toward the end of the citation, we see the difference between those who listen and those who truly hear.  Some said he was ‘mad.’  Others said he was not.

When we act in Jesus’ behalf here in this life, when we bloom where we are planted, when we go about the minutiae of our days, when we work at living in the Spirit, some will say we are ‘mad,’ and others will say we are not. When we shepherd as The Good Shepherd does, we will look for Christ’s guidance. And so we pray.

Gentle and Good Jesus and Lord, keep us always mindful of your love for us.  We know that we are “pearls of great price” that you put all else aside to recover from its place of exile.  we know that you are The Gate and The Way, the only True Shepherd.  Keep us mindful of your patience and your perseverance.  Continue to speak to us in that sacred place that each of us knows with you.  Protect us from those who would harm us. Help us to pray for those who injure us. Keep us ever close to you in mind and body and soul as we shepherd one another.  Amen.


Enter the words Good Shepherd into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://bradylanechurch.org/series/i-am-the-good-shepherd/ 

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Isaiah 43Promises of Redemption and Restoration

Palm Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Favorite from February 21, 2008. 

We sing this hymn so often that these words of Isaiah are familiar to us . . . and they are so beautiful.

I have called you by name; you are mine.

Dear God in Heaven, we so many times feel so alone or abandoned.  We think we have done what you have asked, but somehow things just are not working out.  We feel as though we are sinking to the bottom of the sea.

When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.

Dear God on Earth, we so many times know that we are called and, wanting to be good servants, we want to obey but we are frightened or anxious.  We feel as though we are burning alive.

When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.

Dear God who dwells within, we so many times feel so apart from you as we do the work you have asked of us.  We feel isolated and misunderstood.  We want to come home to you.

I give . . . your ransom because you are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you.

Dear God who made us, we wander here on earth and long for the serenity and beauty of your Holy City on a Hill.  We want to hear you clearly, we want to see you distinctly.  We long to be with you.

I will say to the north; Give them up! and to the south: Hold not back!  Bring back my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth: Everyone who is named as mine, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.  Lead out the people who are blind though they have eyes, who are deaf though they have ears.

Dear God who is tender, kind and loving, we are many times afraid to stand when you say stand, to sit when you say sit, to be still when you say be still, to speak when you say speak.  We want to trust.  We want to be authentic.  We want to embody integrity.

Let them produce witnesses to prove themselves right, that one may hear and say, “It is true!”  You are my witnesses, says the Lord, my servants whom I have chosen to know and believe in me and understand that it is I. 

Dear God who is glorious, awesome, and all-knowing, we do not know how to begin, we do not know where to go.

Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!  Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland rivers.  Wild beasts honor me, jackals and ostriches, for I put water in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people who I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise.

Dear God who walks among us, you have shown us The Way, the Truth and the Light.  We will follow you.  We will enter the desert to meet you . . . for we know that is where you are.  We will sojourn among the jackals and the ostriches . . . for we know that is where you are.  We will walk beside the humble . . . for we know that is where you are.

Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.

Amen.

Find the hymn “Be Not Afraid” by John Michael Talbot, with video clips from the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI49peWG2d0 

David Haas’ hymn “You Are Mine” is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgm9lkTNQmc 

Image from: https://rickandlindareed.com/2014/12/12/do-not-be-afraid/ 

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Gifts . . . freely given

Jean Restout: The Paraclete

The Seventh Day of Christmas, December 31, 2017

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a-swimming.  

Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of God. These seven gifts freely given by the Spirit reside with us – whether we know it or not, and whether we believe it or not. When we least expect it, the Spirit rises to provide us with the tools we need for the circumstances we experience.

Wisdom comes to us with patience and with waiting on the LORD. When we reflect on the persons who hold wisdom, we realize that they listen more than they speak, praise more than they berate, and love more than they disparage. These gifted ones share their wisdom with us, and we do well to share God’s wisdom with others.

Understanding is more than comprehending, more than accepting, and more than believing. Understanding pierces darkness, brings lights, nurtures love in others and enacts love in all. When we practice understanding, we receive more than we expect, and more than we can hold. Understanding grows wherever it resides.

Counsel allows each of us to respond to God’s call no matter how challenging, no matter how awkward, no matter how uncomfortable we may feel. Counsel converts fear into courage. Counsel transforms hatred into love. Those who are open to God’s counsel are better able to see The Way of Christ and to follow.

Fortitude brings us the strength to do what needs to be done when few others will do it. Fortitude brings us the resolution to endure suffering, and to allow God’s hand to convert our suffering into joy. When we allow God’s fortitude to support us in difficult times, we remember Psalm 126: they go out weeping and return rejoicing.

Knowledge of the LORD brings us the foundation on which to stand as we enact the work God calls us to do in this world that struggles to be Kingdom here and now. This gift, perhaps more than any other, allows us to speak and act with authority as Jesus does. Knowledge instructs our decisions, lives in our words, and guides our actions. Knowledge informs our sense of justice and mercy, brings order out of confusion, and love out of hate.

Piety is not a saccharine, duty-bound quality of sweetness; rather, it is love bolstered by God’s power, fidelity strengthened by God’s steadfastness, and hope empowered by God’s promise. Piety is faithful because it makes the choice to persist in God’s love and to believe in God’s covenant. Piety does more than just show up. Piety acts with compassion and patience; and piety is unshakable.

Fear of God is not the experience of anxiety or alarm; it is instead love of God for God’s sake. It demonstrates respect, seeks to worship, and shares joy in the experience of God. One who fears the LORD, stands in awe of God’s goodness and is eager to share the Good News of our rescue from pain and worry.

These seven gifts are more than words. They are tangible forces in our lives. They are stones with which we lay the foundation for our relationship with God. Those who would be wise, are also understanding. Those who give counsel also provide fortitude. Those with knowledge and piety live in awe of God who loves us into creation, and who abides with us even beyond the end of time. On this eve of a new year, we do well to open ourselves to these gifts freely given.

Isaiah 11 describes the Spirit’s gifts as does Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 12.

To learn more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, visit: http://catholicstraightanswers.com/gifts-holy-spirit/

 

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Psalm 27: Seek Trust – God’s Face

Morgan Weistling: Kissing the Face of God

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This is one of my favorite Psalms. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?  The Lord is my life’s refuge, of whom am I afraid?

We all seek God’s face.  This is what we miss so much in our pilgrimage on this planet.  Where do we find this face? The psalmist tells us: In the temple. 

This week’s Mass readings are from Exodus and we hear again the story of how Moses erected a desert tent as the temple that housed the covenant promise that the people held with God.  And God came down to speak with Moses and to the people in the form of a fiery column of smoke.  This column was both guide and protector.  The temple eventually traveled to various cities in the Kingdom of Israel, Jericho, Shiloh, and others, until it eventually rested in Jerusalem – where it ceased to travel and became permanent . . . and corrupt.

The Messiah arrived to replace that temple and to tell us that each one of us is a temple – to be kept holy and sacred for the Spirit’s in-dwelling, to be God’s presence in a struggling world.  And this is what we agree to as part of our own personal covenant with our creator.  That we will trust God and live in accordance with God’s statutes, that we will love God and practice the Greatest Commandment daily, that we will do our best to be People of Hope as we follow The Way that Jesus walked while here on earth.  As the psalmist says, I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy. And the sacrifices I offer are the little and big trials which I undergo daily.

We are all apostles sent forth with this message.  We are journeying together with a clear map to follow.  Again the psalmist, aware that enemies lurk along the roadside, says, Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

The final exhortation sung by the psalmist is, Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!

And the people say . . . Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on August 2, 2007.

 

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John 14:12-14: Seek Wholeness – The Work

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

If we cannot believe Christ’s presence in our lives today, we can at least do the works we see Jesus doing in the Gospels. Over time, we will discover that Jesus brings us hope.

I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see—these works.

If we do not trust God with the enormous events of our lives, we can at least trust God with small actions. Over time, we will discover that God is faithful.

The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing.

If we do not allow the Spirit to heal us through transformation, we can at least open ourselves to the possibility of renewal. Over time, we will discover the Spirit’s deep and abiding love for us.

You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.

God says: Despite your doubts, despite your fears, despite your anxieties, you are already whole. I breathe in you. I rest in you. I work and play and pray in you. If you seek wholeness, know that you already possess it. And this possession becomes evident if you can only do the works you see Jesus doing. When you step into my Way, you discover that you are loved into a wholeness that you recognize readily. Trust me. You can count on it.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore versions of these verses, we discover that we are already whole in our Gospel work of Christ’s Way.

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1 Samuel 17: The Way of Christ

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Caravaggio: David and Goliath

A Favorite from August 16, 2009.

This is a story we know well, and yet we might want to pause in order to spend time with a few details.

  • Battle armor and brave words do not protect Goliath from the truth of David’s one small stone. We might reflect that . . . bluster, barricades and weapons do not serve us as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • While David’s oldest brothers go off to fight against the Philistines with Saul, David tends his father’s sheep in Bethlehem. We might reflect that . . . although our work may often seem insignificant, it is always on target when we obey God as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David leaves his flock with another shepherd when he takes roasted grain and cheeses to the battlefield for the troops. We might reflect that . . . even in the midst of our work, we must remember to shepherd those who follow us as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David’s brothers are jealous not only of the bravery which stems from David’s special relationship with Yahweh but also because David comes to Saul’s attention for the question he repeatedly asks: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should insult the armies of the living king?” We might reflect that . . . we are often the target of jealousy when we are faithful and courageous as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David says with confidence to Saul: “The Lord, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine”. We might reflect that . . . we too, may place our hope in God’s promises as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David rejects Saul’s unwieldy warrior garments and tools so that he might take up and use the tools he knows best: smooth stones and his slingshot. We might reflect that . . . rather than arms and physical strength, our petitions of intercession on behalf of our enemies are our most powerful weapons as we travel along The Way of Christ.
  • David answers the enemy’s challenge with these famous words: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of armies of Israel that you have insulted . . . All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he shall deliver you into our hands”. We might reflect that . . . when the crowd jeers and when we appear to be defeated, we too serve as an example of how God saves and restores as we travel along The Way of Christ.  When we rise after apparent defeat, we are justified by God as we travel along The Way of Christ.

This is an old and familiar story against a backdrop of violence, yet it holds simple and valuable lessons for us today.  They are . . .

  • we must believe the story we have heard,
  • we must hope in the promise we have been given, and
  • we must enact love in the world as a sign that . . .
  • we travel along The Way of Christ.

In so doing, the many false and boasting Goliaths who confront us will fall permanently as we journey along The Way of Christ.

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Proverbs 2: The Blessings of Wisdom

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wisdom – The Pearl of Great Price

A shield guarding the paths of justice. In our current world climate, we can surely use a defense against the onslaught of too much dark news.

Awe of God and an appreciation of God’s knowledge. In our present day, we eagerly welcome God’s power and enlightenment.

Righteousness, justice and equity. In our present circumstances, we look with hope for God’s compassion and mercy.

The writer of Proverbs shows us loose women as temptresses who lead young men astray; but he uses this image as a metaphor for any alluring idea, object or person who would lead us away from the path God lays out for us and The Way Jesus shows us. Today we might ask also about the handlers and users of these women who take advantage of God’s creation for fiscal and physical power and domination, and the role they play in the corruption of God’s creation.

And so, we reckon with God’s presence and assess the value of God’s influence in our lives, and we take stock of all that detracts, and all that brings us value. Where else might we find a safeguard that protects us against every ill wind? Where else might we discover such a deep well of awareness that keeps us eternally secure? And where else might we discern the bottomless empathy, kindness and love of the Lord? The writer of Proverbs opens wisdom for us today.

Other translations of this chapter title are The Value of Wisdom, The Rewards of Wisdom, Make Insight your Priority. When we compare different versions of these verses, we might see more clearly the worth, insight and blessings of the time we spend with Lady Wisdom.

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Proverbs 1:8-19: Greed and Violence

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The writer of these verses is clear and explicit about the wiles of those who might entice us to lie in wait for the honest man or woman who sets our teeth on edge, or who stirs our yearning for some thing or some quality we do not have but want. The writer wants us to remain alert for those who delight in setting traps for the innocent in their search for wealth and power. The wily ones are always looking for new members to swell their ranks.

Walk not in the way with them . . . it may be difficult to see that actions appearing harmless can lead us to dark paths we want to avoid. And so we must be watchful.

These lie in wait for their own blood . . . it may be difficult to see that family, friends or colleagues engage in activities that lead too easily to the ways of violence. And so we must be prudent.

These set a trap for their own lives . . . it is worth more than we can say to step away from plots and schemes that bring down the innocent for our own gain. And so we must be faithful to God.

This is the fate of everyone greedy for loot . . . it is worth more than we can judge to live a life that is void of even the beginning stirrings of envy or greed. And so we must be compassionate and loving.

These are words meant to instruct and warn us. These are verses meant to steer us into The Way Jesus later lays out so clearly. Are these words we can trust? Can we put aside our anxieties when we realize that for millennia traps have been laid for the innocent? Can we hand over our anger to God even as we pray for our enemies? Might we quiet our fears and tame our anxieties while we wait in joyful anticipation of God’s justice? Might we step away from the violence that grows from our human greed, and follow The Way of Christ?

When we compare different versions of these verses, we discover new truth about the violence of greed and the holiness of the innocents who trust in God.

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