Category Archives: Scriptural Arson

The life-changing walk

Easter Reflections on this past Sunday’ Readings at Mass:

Zünd Gang nach Emmaus 1877.jpg
By Robert Zündjoyfulheart ; upload Dezember 2008 ; upload by Adrian Michael, Public Domain, Link

It was impossible for Christ to be held by death because Christ is life. How can life be held by death? The joke is on death, death thought it had the upper hand in swallowing up Jesus… but it didn’t perceive the sign of Jonah! Instead, “death was swallowed up in victory.” Jesus destroyed death by being consumed by it. In the Eucharist, we receive the antidote to death, we receive the resurrected and living One— the Resurrection and the Life Himself.

They were downcast… perhaps this is why they recognize him. Sometimes sadness weighs down so heavily upon us that we seem to lose the sight of God. But he’s there nonetheless.

Even though we may not perceive it, Jesus comes to walk beside us.

The disciples were going the wrong way––away from Jerusalem. We may be going in the wrong direction, but Jesus comes to meet us where we are in order to steer us in the right direction. This is the reality of, the genius behind, the Incarnation… he meets us where we are.

Jesus explained the Scriptures to them… ultimately, Old Testament only makes sense in and through Jesus. Hearing the Scriptures and their explanation––this is the Liturgy of the word.

Jesus made as if he would leave the disciples but he did not because they invited him in…

Stay with us… they were miles away from Jerusalem and it was late. Even though he disappeared, he remained with them. This is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The whole account of the road to Emmaus is the pattern of the Mass.

They were miles away and it would have been quite dark by the time they would have reached. And yet they were not afraid… since they encountered Jesus and he lit the fire in them… the light from the fire that was burning in their hearts from hearing the Word break open the word.

They recognized him in the breaking of bread… they recognized him in the bread. They didn’t recognize him when he was walking alongside them as they walked the road to Emmaus.

After hearing the gospel and receiving the Gospel, literally and concretely in the Eucharist, we’re fully disposed to spread the gospel, unafraid of the darkness. I had never thought of it, but it is so true: that very evening, the 2 disciples immediately returned to Jerusalem.

I had never thought of it, but it is so true: that very evening, the 2 disciples immediately returned to Jerusalem.

Because the light is with them.

On the Scripture Readings we had in Lent

During the past few Sundays of Lent, the Church, being an extension of Christ, has ventured into the desert in the footsteps of her spouse. And as a result, I’ve contemplated the cohesive illustration painted by the Sunday Mass readings which Holy Mother Church has offered.

1st Week:

Adam and Eve were exiled out of the garden paradise of Eden, into the wilderness or desert. Jesus leaves the Paradise of heaven and enters the desert wilderness to bring mankind back to its original state. For 40 days, Jesus is in the desert praying and fasting. If food symbolizes the cause of the fall, it is fitting that fastiom food should remedy it. The gates of heaven were closed off due to the original sin, Jesus comes to open them.

The Old Testament nation of Israel was supposed to act as a corporate “son of God,” to make reparation for the sin of Adam, who was 1st given the title of “son of God.” But the Israelites, after being called out of Egypt, failed their 40 days of testing in the desert.  At the heart of every sin and temptation is a willful and obstinate doubt in the Providence of God, a chosen disbelief in the goodness of God. So it was with Adam, and so it was with Israel. The Israelites failed to come through with the obedience, trust, and gratitude necessary to make up for the disobedience, mistrust, and ingratitude of Adam. Jesus, being the Divine Son of God and perfect man, passes where the Israelites fail and thereby steers humanity in the right direction.

The Israelites doubted God’s ability to feed them, quench their thirst, give them whatever they needed, and bring them to the place he promised. That’s a basic overview.  The law stated in the book of Deuteronomy rebukes the people for their lack of trust. Jesus quotes from it 3 times and fulfills it in place of the people of the old covenant.

 2nd week:

The account of the Transfiguration. Jesus shows the 3 core disciples a glimpse of his divinity. This is a preview of humanity perfected, which will be fully realized at the resurrection. Moses appears. Jesus is the new Moses who leads all humanity into freedom from the slavery of sin and death. He is the one who Moses mentioned when he said that God would raise up a prophet like him; he says that the people should listen to him. God says that the people should listen to him. The whole Old Testament story is one of exodus and exile: Jesus comes to usher in the definitive exodus, thus breaking the cycle. Jesus is the new Elijah. He prophesies the glorified and fully divinized state of humanity.

 3rd weeK:

The Samaritan woman represents all humanity, We’re broken, hurting, and lonely having gone through a number of relationships, from looking for love in all the wrong places… and the one we are with is not the God who can fulfill us. Israel was the bride and God the bridegroom on the pages of the prophetic, and wisdom books of the Old Testament. The woman had 5 husbands, +1, plus Jesus equals 7, the number of perfection.

Oncewe find Jesus, we want to go and tell everyone, as the woman did. Jesusthirsts to bethirsted for… we thirst for forfulfillment. Boththirsts are met in this account…neitherone leaves with a single drop of water. And Jesus is no longer physically hungry, having become satisfied with the will of the Father.

4th and 5th weeks:

A lesser miracle and a greater one … the healing of the man born blind and the rising from the dead ofLazarus were intended to get the people to believe that Jesus was who he said he was. The authorities failed to believe. Jesus gavethe ultimate proofs…a Gentile sees andbelieves, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest miracle possible…  and it is what we are entering into this week…

Lord,  may we be given the sight we need.

St. Mary Magdalene and the Gardener

SAINT MARY MAGDALENE - PRAY FOR US THIS DAY OF YOUR FEAST!Every year on July 22 the Church honors St. Mary Magdalene. There is so much i’d like to say about her… i’ll have to post another one of these.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus cast seven (as in 7 deadly sins) demons out of her and that she was at the Foot of the Cross. She is known as the Apostle to the Apostles–because it’s recorded that the Risen Lord appeared to her first and sent her to deliver the Easter message to the Apostles!

It is often believed that Mary Magdalene is the repentant prostitute who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, wiped them with her hair and anointed them with oil. Some identify her as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, who also anointed the feet of Jesus. I think that she was all of the above.

She sinned much, was forgiven much and loved much in return. When i think of St. Mary Magdalene i’m always automatically reminded of Divine Mercy—“Jesus Christ came for sinners”. I think of her in that scene from The Passion of the Christ right after the horrific scourging. Mary Magdalene is down on the pavement alongside Our Lady soaking up the Savior’s spilled Blood onto white towels. And just as she does this she has a flashback to another moment when she was on the ground:

Jesus had just forgiven her from the serious sin of adultery and saved her from being stoned (Mel Gibson portrayed Mary Magdalene as the woman caught in the act of adultery). The awestruck woman’s hand stretches out towards His feet while the Lord extends his hand to lift her up from the ground. You can almost hear him say “Rise!”

That blood that was shed for her… so that she could be forgiven. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells the following parable:

“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’
And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

Jesus is the gardener who waters the parched earth with His own Blood along with the Water that flowed from his side. St. Mary Magdalene received the gift of Divine Mercy and became one of His most ardent and faithful disciples, bearing fruit that would last. She loved much. At the Foot of the Cross, St. Mary Magdalene beheld the depths of God’s love—especially for sinners. That’s why she stayed at the empty tomb weeping. It always strikes me that when Jesus appeared to her on Easter morning she mistook him for the gardener!

St. Mary Magdalene, you spent the rest of your life bearing witness to these things– to the love that freed you from captivity… pray for us!

Some thoughts about the rich man and Lazarus…

The rich man was so preoccupied with himself that he probably didn’t even notice Lazarus was right there in front of him. It seems that he pretty much spent all his time on fancy clothes, rich food and nothing else. He eventually went to hell— not for being rich but for not doing anything, for not helping Lazarus. God always places people and circumstances before us to get our attention and to move us to do the good.  We can choose to correspond or not.  The rich man chose not to correspond and missed out on what his goal in life was.  He was supposed to assist lesser with the means he had. In turn he would be helped by Lazarus.  May we always be aware of the ‘Lazari’ in our lives. It seems to me that is what Lent is supposed to train us to do with the practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

It is not a sin to be rich, rather all sin is a refusal to love.  Mother Teresa would say that the rich are to assist the poor and the poor are to enrich those who are rich. The idea of communism is different: it is a kind of retaliation against the rich man because he was rich. So it falls into an opposite extreme. The Catholic Church has spoken about economic systems and the dangers of extremes… it would really help society if more people (including myself) were aware of these teachings.

This is worth checking out:

http://www.ccgaction.org/social.htm

Suffering: endure your trials as discipline

For the past few days I haven’t been able to get around easily because my wheelchair controller is fried. All of a sudden it just wouldn’t turn on. The new controller has been ordered and the tech at the company hopes to install it before the weekend.  It is a little bit more than inconvenient right now. I need to be pushed around on manual.

The Lord spoke to me in today’s first reading:

In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.
You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.

Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as his sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

– Hebrews 12

To endure my trials as a discipline, discipline that will later bear good things.  Before I knew what the reading was today, I heard another verse on TV:

…this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

-2 Corinthians 4:17

It is one of my favorites.  Right now, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain. It’s having the eternal perspective, knowing that there will be a reward at the end of it, that gives us cause for joy and reason to keep persevering.  Yesterday in  the reading from Hebrews, the author encourages us to:

persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.

-Hebrews 12

Jesus has run the race and won—he endured the cross for the sake of the joy that lay before him.  He took our human nature and lived our life with all its suffering. We can unite our sufferings to his so that we might know his joy. He shows us the way to the finish line and he is the Way to the finish line and he is the finish line! Those who have been baptized into Christ have entered into identification with him.

So, dear blog reader, please pray for me as I pray for you that we might persevere to the end— where there will be no more suffering but only unending joy.

Candlemas

Yesterday was the Feast of Presentation of Our Lord Jesus which is celebrated 40 days after his birth:

And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

Luke 2:22-24

The Purification was for the mother, 40 days after she had given birth.  The firstborn son would also be dedicated or presented to God on this occasion.

When Jesus was brought in to the temple, it could be said of him in the words of the psalmist:

Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory!

and when the infant King of glory entered the temple, a righteous and devout man by the name of Simeon recognized him:

…it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to thy people Israel.”

The Promised Light has shone into the world… The Presentation of the Lord is also known as Candlemas because of the custom of blessing and procession of candles on this day!

Through the Holy Spirit, the King of glory wants to enter hearts and make them temples presentable to God! Lift high the gates and let the Light in! The Light is revealed by those who, once illuminated, radiate the Light for the whole world to see.

Epiphany: Nothing to Fear!

Take courage, be not afraid, it is I…

This is what Jesus tells the terrified 12 as he walks across the face of the water.  Having control over the water having mastery over it are attributed to God. Jesus shows himself here, reveals himself as God. Earlier he had just multiplied the fish and the loaves, and before that the Scripture recorded that “his heart was moved with pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd”. This harkens back to Psalm 23: the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want… in green pastures he gives me repose… near restful waters he leads me…  though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death no evil shall I fear for you are with me…

Jesus came to us as little child… he doesn’t want us to fear him but to love him.  He is saying to us— to me—“ do not be afraid I AM here, I, Emmanuel. I am the Light who conquerors the darkness I have power over nature and can transform your littleness, your five loaves and two fish and I can feed a multitude with it. Be not afraid. I AM!”

St. Jerome: all things are possible with God

Born in 342AD in the Roman territory called Dalmatia, St. Jerome was one of the greatest Scripture scholars of all time. He was baptized later in life and became a monk. A student of Greek, St. Jerome studied Hebrew under a rabbi in Syria. He served as priest secretary for Pope Damasus in Rome. Moving to the Holy Land after the pope died,  Jerome founded a monastery in Bethlehem and devoted the rest of his life to studying the Scripture. A well-known quote of St. Jerome is ” ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. He translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into the vernacular, Latin. This is the Latin Vulgate.

I’ve heard Father Mitch Pacwa SJ comment on how Jerome became a scripture scholar. He used to have temptations to impure thoughts (he had been living in Rome too long…and those dancing girls…). So for every temptation he studied his Hebrew! How do you think that he became the great Scripture scholar that he was! If only people did something constructive  for every temptation, Father Mitch jokes. What a different world it would be. America certainly wouldn’t be in this economic chaos.

Saint Jerome died in 420AD. He is famous for having a violent temper and resorting to name calling… yet he became a saint and is one of the  western four great Doctors of the Church. All things are possible for God!

I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

– from St. Jerome’s Commentary on Isaiah

Holy Week ’08: Palm/Passion Sunday

Holy Week has begun. Today is Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday.

Jesus has set His face like flint and He won’t back down. “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame

-Isaiah 50:7

Palm Teach

I was really struck by the distribution of palm branches today at Mass: The palms, it seems to me, are to remind us that the crowd waving palms will be the crowd shouting “crucify him!” What’s more, when the Passion is read it is permitted that the congregation take the role of the crowd and say, “crucify him!”…

During his homily, Father mentioned something I had not given much thought to: palms are blessed objects, sacramentals! He recommended that we make palm crosses and put them wherever we spend much time. They’ll remind us to pray for people and to avoid near occasions of sin. See a palm, remember the crowd…

“…All the disciples left him and fled.”

I want to be with Jesus every day this Week but I can only do that with his grace and through prayer, because as he said (and as Peter can later attest): “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.

Reading the Passion is a great exercise to help us pray the Passion. Just now I was slowing reading Matthew’s Passion and I ‘saw’ things I never saw before!

Peace.

PS: pray for my cousin who turned 7 today and is devoted to Our Lord’s Passion.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament © 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Epiphany!

Some thoughts on Epiphany…

The word epiphany means manifestation–a revelation or disclosure of information about someone.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany. That of Jesus to the Magi, Wise men/Kings from the East. It’s the revelation of God-in-the-flesh to all the nations, to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi.

The Magi were astronomers, believed to be from Persia. They had little or no knowledge of the covenants God made to Abraham and Moses, but through the star—brighter than any star they had ever seen—GOD led them to Himself. And they found what–Who they were looking for. The Child is born for them too.

a star shall come forth out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel

– Numbers 24:17

St. Matthew records that “when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy“. That’s a whole lot of joy! “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” (Matt. 2:10-11). Seeing him with his mother they fell down and worshiped him. That reminds me of the epiphany I had in Lourdes.

And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

the young camels of Mid’ian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

– Isaiah 60:3, 6

Another prophecy from Isaiah is fulfilled as we read “Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:11)

  • Gold symbolizing that He is king
  • Incense because He is God
  • myrrh (used as kind of an enbalming fluid for burial in those days) symbolizes his humanity and that He is to die

By their gifts they reveal Him as the Eternal King who would offer Himself up to die for us! The depths of God’s LOVE is revealed in the Child Jesus! On Epiphany, the Church celebrates that God has indeed revealed His plan of salvation in the Word made flesh–Jesus Christ Our God–to all the world..to us.

[It just hit me! An epiphany about Epiphany: God desires a relationship with every person!]

This is the climax of Christmas! Just thought I’d help get the Word out!

In choosing to be born for us, God chose to be known by us. He therefore reveals himself in this way, in order that this great sacrament of his love may not be an occasion for us of great misunderstanding.

Today the Magi find, crying in a manger, the one they have followed as he shone in the sky.

Today the Magi see clearly, in swaddling clothes, the one they have long awaited as he lay hidden among the stars.

Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they believe and do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.

So the Gentiles, who were the last, become the first: the faith of the Magi is the first fruits of the belief of the Gentiles.

– St Peter Chrysologus

1/7/08