Friday, May 31, 2019

We also ascend (St. Augustine)

  Out of compassion for us, he descended from heaven, and although he ascended alone, we also ascend because we are in him by grace.

--St. Augustine    

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sunday Gospel Reflection, June 2, 2019: What is the surpassing greatness of his power...

  When, in the Acts of the Apostles, the apostles want to know if Jesus is going to restore the kingdom to Israel, Jesus tells them to focus their attention elsewhere:  It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established.  In fact, political dominion was never in the cards; Jesus wants Israel to be a strong spiritual entity, grounded in the power that is love, rather in any form of physical force to be reckoned with.  It surely is not what the apostles were expecting.

  The period between the Ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost must have been a time of fear and expectation and much prayer for the apostles.  When Jesus ascends, he leaves them physically; now they must learn to rely on his spiritual presence with them.  Before ascending, as described in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus reminds the apostles that they are to preach repentance.  In order to do that, they must first turn to love and allow it to work in them; only then will they be able to preach to all the nations a universal call to repentance, so that his love can come to dwell in all people.  Only then will all be able, as Psalm 47 suggests, to shout to God with cries of gladness.

  If Jesus has his way, the Letter to the Ephesians suggests, the eyes of all hearts will be enlightened; eyes blind to the potential depth of love before the death of Jesus will now see the full measure of love to which they are called.  That love is what the letter calls the surpassing power for those who believe:  when Christ’s love for us enables us to open our eyes to see the love he has for everyone, and for all of creation.  It is this same love to which we are called, if only we can allow Christ to rule our hearts.  His power, that is, his love, is the power we need to share in, that we might see all things as he sees them, love them as he loves them, honor them as he honors them.  This is truly the only possible restoration of the kingdom Jesus imagines for his followers, and it is the kingdom he wishes for us.

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mary's intimate connection with those cast aside (Henri Nouwen)

    Mary experienced uncertainty and insecurity when she said yes to the angel.  She knew what oppression was when she didn’t find a hospitable place to give birth to Jesus.  She knew the sufferings of mothers who see their children being thrown into the air and being pierced by bayonets; she lived as a refugee in a strange land with a strange language and strange customs; she knew what it meant to have a child who does not follow the regular ways of life but creates turmoil wherever he goes; she felt the loneliness of the widow and the agony of seeing her own son being executed.  Mary is the woman who stands next to all the poor, oppressed, and lonely women of our time.

  Every word in Scripture about Mary points to her intimate connection with all who are forgotten, rejected, despised, and pushed aside.  She joyfully proclaims, He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away.  (Luke 1: 52-53).

--Henri Nouwen, ¡Gracias!

In May we remember Mary...