Friday, April 20, 2018

The lenses we need (Pope Francis)

  Sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus.  

--Pope Francis  

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sunday Gospel Reflection, April 22, 2018: We shall see him as he is...

What is the source of your vision? 

   Speaking before the Sanhedrin in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter links the crucifixion of Jesus to the history of the people of Israel, recounted in Psalm 118:  The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. While Jesus was alive, present before them, the Jewish leadership failed to see Jesus for who he was, that is to say, the Messiah, the only name under heaven by which we are to be saved.  Yet though they rejected Jesus, Peter assures them, they are not condemned; they have the opportunity to believe.  Peter’s presence before them constitutes an invitation, an invitation to recognize what God is doing right now, before their very eyes, in their midst.   They have but to open to the vision that is God’s, to see Jesus for who he was, and is, in their lives.

   If Acts is based on a past vision, John’s Gospel focuses on a present one.  In the story of the Good Shepherd, Jesus endeavors to open the eyes of the Jewish leadership, who fail to see that his power as shepherd, the power to lay down his life for his disciples at the crucifixion, comes to him at the command of the Father.  Jesus acts from the love of the Father; Jesus is that love made manifest.  Out of love for us, God provides the victim, and that victim, the very love of God himself, once sacrificed, because it has no limits, can prove how limitless it is. Jesus sees with God’s vision, and wants to share that vision with all who encounter him.

   The First Letter of John, while grounded in Jesus’ present vision, points also to the future:  what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  But here is the key:  We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  Jesus changes how we see and understand ourselves.  We are children of God, we know.  And God’s love in us is generative, active, dynamic, creative, so we are constantly being recreated into the Body of Christ, into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  Our goal is to try to match that likeness until, in eternal life, we know – and see – him fully.  Christ is the source, and the perfect object, of our vision – we have but to open our eyes and endeavor to see him as he is.

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In a split second of eternity (Muriel Barbery)

   In a split second of eternity, everything is changed, transfigured.  A few bars of music, rising from an unfamiliar place, a touch of perfection in the flow of human dealings – I lean my head slowly to one side, reflect on the camellia on the moss on the temple, reflect on a cup of tea, while outside the wind is rustling foliage, the forward rush of life is crystalized in a brilliant jewel of a moment that knows neither projects nor future, human destiny is rescued from the pale succession of days, glows with light at last, and, surpassing time, warms my tranquil heart.

--Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Monday, April 16, 2018

The risen Jesus (Henri Nouwen)

   The risen Jesus is not bound to any place or person.  He is totally free.  Simplicity and freedom belong together. 

   Mary met Jesus after the Resurrection, but not as he was met by Mary of Magdala or Peter or the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  She didn’t need to be convinced of anything.  Her heart was so simple, so pure, so free that her encounter with her risen Son could be completely interior.  A heart that truly knows Jesus doesn’t need an apparition… I know now that the purer and simpler my heart is, the more clearly I will see – wherever I am. 

--Henri Nouwen, 
Jesus and Mary:  Finding Our Sacred Center

Image source:  James Tissot, The Appearance of Christ at the Cenacle (1886-1894)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A self that goes on changing... (Virginia Woolf)

   A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living.

--Virginia Woolf           

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sunday Gospel Reflection, April 15, 2018: Look at my hands and my feet...

What has changed, now that Christ is risen?

   Jesus’ disciples were surely the first to ask themselves this question.  When, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples, showing them his hands and his feet, and then, of all things, asking, Have you anything here to eat?, the disciples aren’t quite sure what kind of body they are dealing with.  What they do know is that something about Jesus resonates with them – the disciples have had a tangible experience of something, someone familiar, and they feel once again the deep connection that has always existed between them and the Lord.  They are witnesses of these things, without yet entirely understanding them.

   Once the disciples go out into the community, they seem to be better equipped to answer the question, what has changed, now that Christ is risen?  In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter calls the people to transformation:  Repent, and be converted, that you might have knowledge not just of the physical body of Jesus, God’s servant, who has been put to death, but of the spiritual life Christ invites you to.  Only then will you know security in your dwelling, as Psalm 4 describes it, for the Lord does wonders for his faithful one. Moreover, only from this place of conversion, the First Letter of John explains, can we know fully the gift that is Jesus, our Advocate, Jesus, expiation for our sins.  To know him, we must keep his word, follow his commandments, be attentive to the relationship he offers us.  To know him, we must allow the word to enter us, to take flesh in us, to join with us, to connect with us, to resonate in us.  When we do, then that relationship changes us, helps us to see our new identity, based in intangibles rather than tangibles, an identity in which the love of God can be truly perfected in us. 

What has changed in you, now that Christ is risen?

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
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