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Posts Tagged ‘union with Christ’


Mark 1 -3A Reason to Believe

Tuesday, February 20, 2019

Today we return to the Gospel of Mark and when we study these opening Chapters we discover that they provide the perfect resource for us when we have had a bad day, an awful week, a cataclysmic month, or a horrendous span in our lives.  In these simple stories we will find the courage to continue an arduous journey; we will find hope that will impel us forward through tragedy.  We will even find the strength to help others who journey alongside us. Mark shows us a typical series of days in the life of Jesus in such a way that we might see ourselves putting aside our worldly worries to follow him.  Mark, with his quick-moving, thriller Gospel, gives us a reason to believe.

John the Baptist serves as a precursor or herald for the Messiah who follows him.  Our troubles and woes often announce themselves as well.  We feel a frisson of fear, a foreshadowing of something not fully revealed.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these forebodings are not our ultimate end.  Our end is rescue and redemption.  John baptizes the one who saves us all and Jesus unites with us in our own baptism.

The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for forty days where he lives among wild beasts, is tempted by Satan and is ministered to by angels.  We too are driven into the barren wastes where we also met with devils and angels.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these dead places are not our last stop – even though they may seem to be at the time.  Jesus relies on the Father and unites with us in our own sufferings and temptations.

Jesus begins his ministry.  He cures many.  He gathers a following.  He chooses steadfast friends from the countless who follow him.  He is hounded by those who envy his relationship with God and the people.  We too step into the world to reveal our gifts and to allow God to act through us.  We too encounter obstacles to the Call we feel.  We too are harassed by those who cannot abide our closeness with God.  When we follow Jesus we know that there is no one, no idea, no thought, no thing that can separate us from God.  God never strays; it is we who have the choice to abandon or to abide.  Just as Jesus turns always to the Father so do we.  Jesus unites with us in the struggle.

Jesus steps into dangerous territory and his family and friends caution him, they even question his work.  We have seen the look of disappointment on the faces of others who misunderstand our steadfastness, who feel betrayed by our fidelity to the Gospel.  We know the sensation of rejection when those we love can no longer abide with us in the Spirit.  Jesus invites us to be one with him in the sacrifice we make in our own Gospel journey.  Jesus bonds with us as his sisters and brothers; he holds us close.  Jesus becomes one with us and takes up our too-heavy cross.

These opening stories in the Gospel of Mark draw us into Jesus’ story just as a good cinematographer hooks us in the opening shots of a film.  Jesus moves from friend to foe, from those who love him to those to hate him; and he always keeps his eye on the Father.  Jesus accompanies us in our own story; and he helps us to be mindful of the Spirit.

As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we do well to read these opening Chapters of the Gospel of Mark for he tells us all and he tells us quickly.  Mark celebrates Jesus even as he foretells his awful end.  Mark holds no punches, sweetens no madness, and obscures no ugliness.  Mark shows us all.  Mark’s story gives us hope when tragedy strikes.  Mark’s story gives us courage when cataclysm hits.  Mark’s story helps us to prepare for the journey.  Mark’s story gives us a reason to believe this amazing Christ.


A re-post from February 20, 2012.

Image from: http://www.atotheword.com/2011/04/05/jesus-man-born-blind-for-works-of-god-to-manifest-in-him/

For more on the Gospel of Mark, see the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog. 

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Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part VI

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

El Verones: Jesus and the Centurion

Paolo Veronese: Jesus and the Centurion

Luke 7:1-17: Resuscitation

We have reflected on the marvels God worked for Ezra and the Israelites who returned from exile. We have considered the marvels God works in our lives, and the miracles Jesus brings to us. We have deliberated on the nature of the Holy Spirit who dwells in the new temple of our hearts. Today we turn to a well-known story from the New Testament as we also consider the human deeds at which Jesus himself marvels. And we celebrate the great gifts God gives us freely. Rebirth. Renewal. Rejuvenation. Restoration.

James Tissot: Jesus Raising the Son of the Widow at Nain

James Tissot: Jesus Raising the Son of the Widow at Nain

This is the message of today’s reading of the two stories The Healing of a Centurion’s Slave and The Raising of the Widow’s Son.  A pagan master who is more giving, loving, hope-filled and faithful than the people of Israel stirs the Messiah to act with compassion.  A woman whose only son dies moves the Teacher with pity.  So too can we move the Christ and be moved by him.  When we read these stories we understand fully how much God forgives, how much God yearns for union, how much God wants our trust, how much God is present to us . . . constantly.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT:

You are faithful in your forgiveness: strengthen in trust all who fear to approach you in the sacrament of penance.

You are gracious to all who come to you: make gracious all who represent you in the presence of sin and suffering.

You are merciful to all who turn to you for help: enlighten in wisdom all who have the opportunity to encourage others in prayer.

You forgive every human failing: preserve us from the temptation to trap others in their sins by passing on small-minded gossip.

So wide is God’s mercy that no sin is too great or too small for forgiveness.  So much narrower is our charity that we often find the small annoyances the hardest to forgive.  The more we turn in prayer to the all-forgiving God, the more we will become like him in extending the hand of pardon to others in every daily circumstance.

celebrateGod is not afraid of sin.  We are.  God does not take revenge.  We do.  God wants perfect union with us.  And we are invited in to perfect union with Christ.

God does more than sustain and nourish.  God is constantly present.  God heals.  God renews.  God will even resuscitate.  We demonstrate our belief in all of this when we take our small and large problems to God.  And we demonstrate our love God when we act in deep and abiding trust . . . even as we marvel at God’s great work in us.

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 19, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 19.9 (2008). Print.  

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Matthew 28:16-20: Scrutiny – Part IV

Sunday, September 11, 2016hand in hand

When Jesus returns to abide with his followers after his death and resurrection, he reminds them – and reminds us today – that when we live and work, play and pray in the Spirit we will not go wrong. When we follow Christ, we will find all that we need. When we remain in God, we remain eternally.

THE MESSAGE describes the eleven as they journey to meet Jesus at the appointed place: Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

These faithful suffer doubt as we do; yet they follow.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.

Jesus tells us that fidelity overcomes doubt, love overtakes fear, and unity brings an end to division.

“Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

Jesus is clear. We are not alone. He abides always. Jesus leaves no doubt about what is required of us. We are to act as he acted. We are to share the good news of the story we have seen unfold before our eyes. Knowing and living this . . . is the gift of our scrutiny.

When we scrutinize our words and actions, we have the opportunity to conquer all that holds us back. We have the gift of eternal union in Christ. We have the truth we seek and love that endures. We have all.

On this 15th anniversary of September 11, 2001, we scrutinize our reality and open ourselves to the truth that endures forever when we use the scripture link to compare this translation with other versions. 

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2 Kings 24 and 25: Historical Messiness

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jeconiah from Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum, 1553

Jeconiah from Guillaume Rouillé’s Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum, 1553

Today we read about the end of Judah, the end of Jerusalem, the end of the Jewish kingdom.  Jehoiachim, thinking perhaps that he might buy some time in a compromise, becomes a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar from 604 40 602 B.C.E.  But in the end, as we read today, death and destruction, ruin and exile take over.  Jehoiachin, who has been king a only few months, surrenders to overwhelming forces.  Zedekiah is named king (his name had been Mattaniah) but he also fails to return the people and himself to Yahweh.

These are sad and piercing stories in which we see all that is valued being carried off; innocent blood is shed, a way of life ends.  And yet does it?

Zedekiah from Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum, 1553

Zedekiah from Guillaume Rouillé’s Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum, 1553

We are passing through a time of year which brings us the message of hope in darkness.  We are living in a time when the impossible becomes possible.  For as many times as we find ourselves carted off into exile, we will also find ourselves redeemed and even saved – saved from the treacheries that surround us, saved from the treacheries within.

We have spent time in previous Noontimes reflecting on the times of exile in our lives.  Invaders have overrun our sacred precincts.  Terror seizes us; all that we hold precious is taken away.  Yet, it is the marvel and mystery of living in relationship with God that ultimately saves us.

Bishop Robert Morneau tells us in Daily Reflections for ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope: Here was a God of infinite compassion, taking on the human condition and plunging into our historical messiness.  Here was a God who understood our pains and joys from the inside.  Here was the Messiah, the Savior of humankind.

King Nebuchadnezzar II (634-562 BCE)

King Nebuchadnezzar II (634-562 BCE)

Today we read about the history of our ancestors and we take time to reflect . . . when we are in the midst of our own historical messiness, when our own holy vessels are carted off and melted down to adorn pagan idols, to whom do we turn for sustenance and comfort?  To whom do we cry out for help?  There is only one person, as Morneau reminds us, only one being who can truly understand our sorrows and our triumphs.  And we are about to celebrate the coming of this being into our presence.  As we move through this last week of Advent, let us carry both our grief and our joy to this one who saves, this one who redeems, this one who loves us so that he comes to us as a child, relying on our own willingness and readiness to be one with him . . . despite our historical messiness.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 16, 2009.

We can read more detail about these ancient kings by clicking on their images or at:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?letter=J&artid=198

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=73&letter=Z&search=zedekiah 

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11407-nebuchadnezzar 

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