Saturday, March 2, 2024

To listen to the sacred Word (Pope Francis)


   How good it is, especially for us Christians, to listen to the sacred Word with an open heart and so allow ourselves to be illuminated and guided not by our own plans but by the merciful plan of God, who wants to embrace and save all men and women, all the brothers and sisters of Jesus! 
 
--Pope Francis, June 23, 2023 

Friday, March 1, 2024

He pitched his tent among us (Bishop Robert Barron)


    [John’s] entire prologue comes to its climax with the magnificent phrase, “the Word was made flesh and lived among us.” […] Authentic Christianity, inspired by this stunning claim of St. John, knows that the Word of God took to himself a human nature and thereby elevated all of matter and made it a sacrament of the divine presence. 

   The Greek phrase behind "lived among us" is literally translated as "tabernacled among us" or "pitched his tent among us." No Jew of John’s time would have missed the wonderful connection implied between Jesus and the temple. According to the book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant—the embodiment of Yahweh’s presence—was originally housed in a tent or tabernacle. The evangelist is telling us that now, in the flesh of Jesus, Yahweh has established his definitive tabernacle among us. 

--Bishop Robert Barron 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sunday Gospel Reflection, March 3, 2024: Lord, you have the words of everlasting life...

What is the purpose of the commandments? 

    When, in the Book of Exodus, God delivers God’s commandments to the people of Israel, it is understood that this list of precepts is meant to be a set of instructions, a kind of guidance for worshipping God. Each commandment calls the people to responsibility to God and to their own people. God is reminding the people that their lives are not lived out for themselves alone, but rather in a context outlined by the Lord, a context of which they must remain aware as they live in community with one another. God’s commandments are the words of everlasting life. All of them listed in Psalm 19laws, decrees, precepts, commands, and ordinances – are a revelation from God, meant to guide us, to lead us, and to offer us insights into our human existence. Each is an invitation to take in and internalize God’s instructions, that we might embody them and thus know intimately the fullness of God. For this reason, they are more precious than gold, for they connect us to the God who loves us. 

    But misunderstandings of the law are always possible. In John’s Gospel, when Jesus overturns the tables of those who sold oxen, sheep and doves, and of the moneychangers, he is making it clear that their practices are incongruous with relationship with God. Doves were all the poor could afford, but what if they could not? Is God meant to be expensive? The temple was supposed to give all people access to God; the vendors, who are in fact following the law, nevertheless stand in the way of that access. Jesus wants them to see that they have made a business out of worship, that they are putting barriers between the people and God. Jesus makes it patently clear that he has come for change, for transformation – he is challenging them all to a renewal, to a deeper realization of God’s love in people’s lives. And this includes a new understanding of temples itself, one that replaces the edifice in Jerusalem with Jesus’ own body: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. 

   The people of Corinth are looking for power and wisdom, but Paul tells them, we proclaim Christ crucified, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. We use laws to define our hierarchies and our structures so that they can claim to afford power, but this is foolishness in Paul’s terms. Christ crucified means God offered himself entirely for our sake; raised up in three days, Christ demonstrated that the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Paul is calling the Corinthians to transformation, to a deeper realization of God’s love in their lives. 

    If we are to appreciate all that Jesus Christ has done for us, we have to get past our own limited understanding of his ways, for Christ challenges us all to renewal. Every moment is a call to transformation, to conversion, to change, to a deeper awareness of God in our lives and a fuller awareness of the depth of his love for us. We are on our way, but we have not yet arrived. Let us embrace the one commandment, the greatest commandment, the commandment to love, for only love will move us forward on our journey of transformation. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life… 

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source: www.wordclouds.com

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Let us go up to the mountain (Susan Butterworth)



   May our prayer be a time of rest and retreat, seeking the powerful presence of God. Perhaps we will not see a glorious light, nor emerge with our faces shining because we have seen God. We may speak words in hopes that God will listen to us. In fact, our task is to listen to God. 
 
  Come Holy Spirit, let us go up to the mountain. Let our hearts become quite calm so that God’s spirit may fill us. Give us such fineness of hearing that our hearts may listen. Grant us patience, inspiration, a glimpse of God’s glory. Amen. 

--Susan Butterworth 

Image source:  Sadao Watanabe, Transfiguration (1971), https://scriptum.com/artwork/14897-transfiguration?artistsid=1505
Quotation source

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A transfigured, elevated beauty (Bishop Robert Barron)


   Christ came not just to make us nice people or morally upright folks, but rather to give us a share in his divine life, to make us denizens of heaven, people capable of living in that new environment. 

   What gave the first Christians this conviction? The answer is the Resurrection—and the great anticipation of the Resurrection, which is the Transfiguration. This ordinary Jesus somehow became transformed, elevated, enhanced in his manner of being. 

   The first thing we notice is that his appearance becomes more beautiful. These somewhat grubby bodies of ours are destined for a transfigured, elevated beauty. 

   Secondly, in his transfigured state, Jesus transcends space and time, since he is talking with Moses and Elijah. In this world, we are caught in one moment of space and time, but in heaven, we will live in the eternal now of God’s life. 

   Have you ever noticed that even as we appreciate all that is wonderful about this life, we are never really at home? There is a permanent restlessness about human life. But a higher, richer, more beautiful and spiritually fulfilling life awaits us. 

--Bishop Robert Barron,
Gospel Reflection, June 30, 2023
 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Free to reveal himself where and when he wants (Henri Nouwen)

   God cannot be understood: he cannot be grasped by the human mind. The truth escapes our human capacities. The only way to come close to it is by a constant emphasis on the limitations of our human capacities to “have” or “hold” the truth. We can neither explain God nor his presence in history. As soon as we identify God with any specific event or situation, we play God and distort the truth. We only can be faithful in our affirmation that God has not deserted us but calls us in the middle of all the unexplainable absurdities of life. It is very important to be deeply aware of this. There is a great and subtle temptation to suggest to myself or to others where God is working or where not, when he is present and when not; but nobody, no Christian, no priest, no monk, has any “special” knowledge about God. God cannot be limited by any human concept or prediction. He is greater than our mind and heart and perfectly free to reveal himself where and when he wants. 

--Henri Nouwen      

Image source: Armando Alemdar Ara, Transfiguration of Jesus (2004), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Transfiguration_of_Jesus.jpg
Quotation source

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Jesus takes them up the mountain (Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP)


God’s Word belongs to God.
Listen to him.
We do not own the truth.
The truth owns us.

    The Transfiguration is the retreat Jesus gives to his closest disciples before they embark on the first synod in the life of the Church, when they walk together (syn-hodos) to Jerusalem. This retreat was needed because they were afraid of this journey they must make together. Until now they have wandered around the north of Israel. But at Caesarea Philippi, Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ. Then Jesus invites them to go with him to Jerusalem, where he will suffer, die and be raised from the dead. They cannot accept this. Peter tries to prevent him. Jesus calls him ‘Satan’, ‘enemy’. The little community is paralysed. So Jesus takes them up the mountain. 

   This retreat gives them the courage and hope to set off on their journey. It does not always go well. They immediately fail to free the young lad from the evil spirit. They quarrel about who is the greatest. They misunderstand the Lord. But they are on their way with a fragile hope. 

--Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP