Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, March 29, 2015: Hosanna in the highest!

Salvation doesn’t necessarily fit our expectations.

During Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a colt, he is greeted as the Messiah by the crowds, who cry, Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Save us, they pray:  they hope for salvation.  And Jesus will save them, all of them, but not the way they anticipate.  Salvation doesn’t fit their expectations.

The salvation that Jesus offers is salvation from sins, not from Roman occupiers – it is the salvation, not of the land they covet, but of their very core.  And he saves, how?  First, by their public execution of his human person:  they seek and take his life; they push salvation forward by crucifying their Messiah.  More importantly, he gives his life, and it is this, his gift, that transforms their efforts.  Salvation doesn’t fit their expectations.

Does it fit yours?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, March 23, 2015

The grain of wheat has to die (Henri Nouwen)

I want to go in many directions, do many things, meet many people, be involved in many situations.  But to be fruitful I have to stay close to the source of life and allow myself to be cut back.
This is something I cannot do for myself; it must be done by the Word of God.  It’s the Word that tells me that the grain of wheat has to die in order to bear fruit.  Maybe it’s first of all a question of becoming attentive to when and where the cutting is taking place, and recognizing these times and places as times and places of fruitfulness.

--Henri Nouwen, Finding a New Way to Get a Glimpse of God

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Change Our Hearts (Rory Cooney)

Change Our Hearts
(Rory Cooney)

            Change our hearts this time;
            Your word says it can be.
            Change our minds, this time;
            Your life could make us free.
            We are the people your call sets apart.
            Lord, this time, change our hearts.

            Brought by your hand to the edge of our dreams,
            One foot in paradise, one in the waste,
            Drawn by your promises, still we are lured
            By the shadows and the chains we leave behind.


            Now, as we watch, you stretch out your hands,
            Offering abundances, fullness of joy,
            Your milk and honey seem distant, unreal,
            When we have bread and water in our hands.  But…

            Show us the way that leads to your side
            Over the mountains and sands of the soul.
            Be for us manna, water from stone,
            Light which says we never walk alone.  And…


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, March 22, 2015: Create in me a clean heart...

Are we ready for radical transformation?

The readings for the fifth Sunday of Lent all hinge on this question.  Jeremiah shares God’s promise to make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, one written not on stone but on their hearts.  The newness, in other words, is internal:  the radical transformation that will take place will penetrate us so deeply that the Lord will fill us, will suffuse our whole being with his love.  Create in me a clean heart, the psalmist sings in Psalm 51, sustain in me a willing spirit.  If we empty ourselves, opening ourselves to that radical transformation, we can be filled with God’s abundant mercy, loved into (new) existence once again, transformed, radically, by God’s love.

The coming of Jesus adds a whole new set of images to the notion of radical transformation:  unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, he tells the disciples in John’s Gospel, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Jesus himself died, the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, to become the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him; we, in turn, must also die – to self, to sin, to all that is transitory – following Jesus through death, so that we can rise to new life, and bear fruit. Christianity calls us to radical transformation:  our whole life leads up to this moment of transformation, to salvation.  Are we willing to die so that we, too, can rise, and be transformed?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, March 16, 2015

One drop of God's love...

One drop of God’s love is worth more, has more power, and deserves more esteem than all the other loves that can ever enter into the hearts of men or amongst the choirs of angels.

--St. Francis de Sales, 
Treatise on the Love of God, 
Book X, chapter 3
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Saturday, March 14, 2015

God does so love the world...

I experience religious dread whenever I find myself thinking that I know the limits of God’s grace, since I am utterly certain it exceeds any imagination a human being might have of it.  God does, after all, so love the world.
--Marilynne Robinson, When I Was a Child I Read Books
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, March 15, 2015: God so loved the world...

How do we survive in the tension of love?

Sunday’s reading from the second Book of Chronicles tells  -- in vivid detail -- yet another story of the Jewish people’s infidelity to the covenant with God.  Exile was the result of that infidelity; Psalm 137 gives voice to the people in exile who don’t believe they can worship God in Babylon:  they hang up their harps and sit and weep instead.  But the people found hope at the end of the tunnel, when Cyrus, the King of Persia, sent them back to rebuild… and may their God be with them, Cyrus tells them.

If only this were the end of humankind’s infidelity to the covenant with God… But our lack of faithfulness has continued through the Pharisees of Jesus’s day to our own time.  We know how the story ends, though, because we have a sense of God’s infinite love.  Rich in mercy, Paul reminds the Ephesians, God brought us to life with Christ.  Or, in John’s words, God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.  We will not perish precisely because God’s love is infinite:  Jesus, life itself, came to reveal the truth of that love.  There are no limits on the mercy God is willing to visit upon those who believe.  Each time we participate in Eucharist, we are reaching beyond where we are to where Jesus is, so that we might be reconnected forever to the infinite goodness that is that love.  And, as Paul says, it is by grace that we have been saved through faith:  faith is about how we enter into God’s activity, how we are drawn in by God’s work in us, by God’s mercy, so that we may be conduits of that grace for others.

To survive in the tension of love is to die to what has been, to be open to what is and what might be.  As we approach the end of Lent, may we experience God’s mercy in that tension, drawing others with us into union with Christ, through the grace that is ours and the love we share. 

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle