Posts tagged: St. John

Paul Proclaims Christ’s Divinity

By , April 12, 2014 5:49 am

April 13th, Palm Sunday

In discussing last week’s scriptures, I described that text from St. John’s Gospel as one of my favorites in the entire New Testament. Well, I am going to say that again because today’s text from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is able to put in front of us a statement about Jesus of Nazareth that, in one or two sentences, summarizes the totality of salvation and the reality that we see and experience from our faith in our Divine Lord. Paul is writing to the Church in Philippi and they have had their problems. That is why he needed to write the letter. But in the second chapter, he uses words that are startling, clear and definitive.

He tells you and me that we should have an attitude in life like Christ. Christ, of course, loved his Heavenly Father and was willing to make any sacrifice necessary in order to redeem the human family. Then these words leap out at us:
(Jesus Christ) “Though he was by nature God
Did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to
But emptied himself taking the nature of a slave.”

What an awesome statement. We should say it over and over in our morning or evening prayers. Paul is telling us what is the overwhelming reality of our spiritual journey. God has been here. God has come to us. God has been one with us. And God invites us to pass via the salvific life and work of Jesus to share eternal life with him forever and ever.

In this Holy Week, we will have a great deal of time to think about our own lives, the status of our own souls and the eternal reward that is awaiting us as we approach our own death and resurrection.

We are to be one with Jesus forever and ever.

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Jesus Loves His Friends

By , April 5, 2014 4:48 am

April 6th, Fifth Sunday of Lent

Oh, today’s Gospel! This is one of my favorite texts in the entire bible whether you are talking about Old or New Testaments. Today’s Gospel excerpt is drawn from the 11th chapter of St. John’s Gospel and for me it is wonderfully meaningful. The whole thrust of this Gospel is John, communicating to the first generation of the life of the Church, his memory what Jesus revealed about himself.

Sometimes our Lord communicated with words and other times just extraordinary actions. Today I am making reference to what I consider a wonderful extraordinary aspect of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. That is the fact that he was a MAN.
Members of the Christian community always recognize that Jesus is God dealing with us through a human nature. We know that. We believe that. But can we get our arms around it? Can our limited brains really grasp the awesome reality that within this Jewish carpenter from Nazareth the Godhead dwelt?

Well, today’s text really helps us to go in that direction. You know the story so well. Jesus goes to visit his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus but on arriving, he is told that Lazarus died several days before. The text says that he was “troubled in spirit, moved by the deepest emotions” and then listen to this, he began to WEEP!

Did we all catch that? Jesus of Nazareth is weeping. This Divine Presence is torn by emotions, saddened and filled with a sense of loss. Can we really grasp that? I think the principle underlying the scene is that Lazarus was a friend of Jesus. Jesus liked him. Jesus was crushed on learning of Lazarus’ death. I like to transfer that concept to the rest of us. Yes, we are followers of Jesus, yes, we believe in him, but do we really see him as our friend? What a gift.

If we live a good life and if we do the things I just mentioned, we are his friends. Would your acquaintances be impressed if you were at a meeting and they announced that the president of the United States has called for you and has asked you to return the call? Would it seem important to you if it were only the governor or the mayor? My friends, if we are living a good life, we are the friends of Jesus. There is nothing better than that.

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The Transfiguration

By , February 23, 2013 4:34 am

February 24th, Second Sunday of Lent

Jesus of Nazareth is a real human being. The apostles who worked with him during his public life were also real human beings with different temperaments, personalities, talents, etc. It is only natural then that Jesus dealt with the apostles in different ways. We can guess at those ways but we will never know exactly the motivation that caused our Lord to act in such a way in specific situations.
Those thoughts are brought to my mind because of today’s Gospel which in the life of the Church is called the Feast of the Transfiguration. The majority of the apostles are left behind in the valley. For some reason Jesus goes away with Peter, James and John. This is really a dramatic scene. The four of them ascend high up on the mountain. Suddenly Jesus looks different, awesomely different! The texts say that his clothes became dazzlingly white and he is no longer alone. There is Moses to one side and Elijah on the other. They also appeared in glory and were having a conversation with Jesus about the fact that he was about to fulfill ancient prophecies. It is an awesome scene but Luke gives it very few words. The visitors soon disappear and the three apostles are headed down the mountain again. From within a mysterious cloud they hear a voice saying, “This is my son, my chosen one. Listen to him.” The apostles were shocked into silence and did not report this scene until after the resurrection.
What is the purpose of this event? Anyone could come up with a number of explanations. Was Jesus just preparing these chosen apostles for something that would be more awesome in the future, namely his resurrection and an awareness of his divinity? Was he uniting his life and work with God’s dealings with his people in the Old Testament which is symbolized by both Moses and Elijah? Maybe it was just to remind you and me of two facts: that life is mysterious and God is near.

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A Real Scandal

By , August 25, 2012 5:41 am

August 26th, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, when you hear the word “scandal” we almost always connect it with disappointment or a letdown relating to some religious person or program. We are scandalized when the pastor marries the church secretary but the original meaning of the word is quite simple. A scandal is something that causes you to stumble, to falter, to not be able to go forward. In today’s Gospel as we are winding down the 6th chapter of
St. John, we have a classic act of stumbling.

Jesus has been talking at great length about the fact that he will continue to abide with us in the mystery of the Eucharist and that he himself will be the food that will bring us to eternal life. This shocked many of his listeners. Jesus does not back down. Six times he repeats the basic thesis that he is the bread of life and that he will nourish us as we continue to journey after him.

The sentence reflecting the scandal is really sad.

“From this time on many of his disciples broke away and would not remain in his company.”

Our Lord does not apologize. He does not say they misunderstood. He just keeps repeating the truth of his continued presence among us. There are two things: that it is some of his disciples who are leaving and then Jesus turns to the apostles and says, “Will you also go away?” And Peter replies,

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We are convinced that you are God’s holy one.”

Let us stand beside Peter each day of our life.

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Bread From Heaven Indeed!

By , August 18, 2012 5:41 am

August 19th, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
For several weeks we have been walking with our Lord through the 6th chapter of
St. John where he is revealing that he is not going to leave us alone in this valley of tears. He gives us the infinite gift of his continued presence, the gift of the Eucharist. This will still continue next week when we see the negative reaction of many of his listeners. It is a dramatic moment in the public teaching of our Lord.

But today I would like to look at the second reading from the 5th chapter of Ephesians where Paul gives us the results of walking in the footsteps of Jesus and being nourished by his continued presence through Communion. It is a short excerpt but it is joyful, optimistic and triumphant.

“Act like thoughtful men.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Make the most of the present moment.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Return to the will of the Lord.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Avoid getting drunk.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Be filled with the Spirit.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sing praise.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Give thanks to the Father.”

Most of us are committed to doing one or another of those things. We know their importance but what St. Paul is challenging us to do is to let these qualities dominate our day-to-day life. Let us go forward with positive, confident, hope-filled and ultimately triumphant actions in our spiritual journey.

Finally, let’s go back to the first reading from Proverbs in which the sacred author invites us to blend wisdom and horse sense in our lives. Wisdom has built a great house and invites passersby to come and partake of its blessings. Each one of us gets those invitations day-by-day. Regretfully, most of us fall or stumble one time or another. The continued presence of the Lord in our lives will give us the power to go forward successfully.

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Kindness, Kindness – Yes, Always Kindness

By , August 11, 2012 4:11 am

August 12th, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For several weeks, we are in St. John’s Gospel, especially the 6th chapter where he talks in great length about Jesus himself being bread from heaven and that this bread is the key to everlasting life. But if Jesus is giving himself to us as the nourishment for our souls, what should come from that? What should be the results?

They are clearly stated in the excerpts from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

“Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, malice of every kind. In place of these things, be kind to one another, compassionate and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ.”

Once again, these are not just words. They are something of a job description for those who strive to walk in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth. We are all aware of the fact that there is a lot of pain around us, a lot of hurt, a lot of disappointment. In a moment of honesty, we could admit that we ourselves cause a certain amount of that pain. But if we are receiving the Eucharist on a regular basis, if we prepare for Communion properly, and we meditate on its constancies, we should become far more gentle. We should strive for the opportunity to be kind to people and patient. Patience – ah – there is the word.

It is easy enough to be patient with the people around us who are extraordinarily polite, generous and sensitive, but what about that obnoxious jerk? He was malformed in his growing process and does little to endear himself to the people around him. Aren’t we challenged to be patient with him as well?

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Not Like Thomas

By , April 15, 2012 5:53 am

Second Sunday of Easter, April 15th

The awe and joy of the Resurrection continues on this, the second Sunday of Easter. John’s Gospel presents several delightful developments flowing out of this center of the Christian faith, namely Jesus of Nazareth’s triumph over sin and death. I refer to our Lord’s infinite patience, forgiveness and his challenge to our faith.

The first scene is the apostles hiding behind locked doors who are suddenly face to face with the Lord. If you look between the lines, you see that this scene not only describes the commissioning of the apostles with power, but certainly reflects his infinite patience and forgiveness. After three years of teaching them, after his constant presence among them, after his steady manifestation of infinite power, their faith dissolved. They had broken and run at the first sight of danger. Add Peter’s denial and the situation is even more disappointing. But what words does Jesus express as he appears among them? PEACE BE WITH YOU! The apostles were blessed that Jesus was Jewish and not Irish. Otherwise, he might have been much harsher.

The next component of this brief drama is poor Thomas. We don’t know his last name but he has gone down in history as Doubting Thomas.

Then you and I work into the story because after Thomas expresses faith Jesus says, “You became a believer because you saw me. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” We don’t walk in Thomas’ footsteps. We walk in those of Jesus of Nazareth.

Onward to Pentecost Sunday.

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Today’s Headlines

By , April 3, 2012 5:27 am

Take a look at the front page of today’s paper. The stories are a mixed lot. Some are exciting, such as that newest discovery in the area of cancer research; others are sad, such as that plane crash; and some are very boring, such as the never ending debate between the Republican contenders. However, there is no mention about Jesus of Nazareth on that front page!

What we have in our hearts is more important than today’s front page since tomorrow that printed page will be meaningless. What is important is that on this Tuesday of Holy Week we grasp that we have the wonderful spiritual gift of being dramatically reminded of who we are and, more importantly, who we are in relationship to the God who created us and Jesus who has redeemed us. It is a quiet day during Holy Week but we need that quiet. We need time to think.

So skip the front page today and give some thought to opening the Gospel and reading the Gospel of St. John from beginning to end. It will take less than an hour. It is a wonderful way to lead into the rest of this week, which is so awesomely important to us.

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Staying in the Spotlight

By , March 17, 2012 5:23 am

March 18th, Fourth Sunday of Lent
As we transition from looking at St. Mark’s cryptic style for the last few weeks and now we look at a profoundly different method of writing of St. John’s. John’s writings reflect the fact that the Christian community has been thinking about and remembering what Jesus did for about 65 years. John also seems to be influenced by Greek philosophy which dominated the Roman Empire at the time of his writing.

Today’s text from the third chapter of St. John is really wonderful. It connects Moses actions as prefiguring of actions by the Messiah, Jesus. It summarizes the wonderful love that our God has for the whole human family. He advises his listeners to have strong faith and live in the light.

John started his Gospel talking about a strong relationship between light and life. He begins this excerpt with an exhortation to live the good life out in the light of day. He points out that, “An evil person hates the light for fear his deeds may be exposed, but he who acts in truth comes into the light to make clear that his deeds are done in God.”

In the middle of Lent, this is a good time to ask ourselves are we really children of the light? We are called to be. Are we?

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Running With Mark- Good News!

By , February 11, 2012 4:20 am

February 12th, 6th Sunday of the Year
For the next ten weeks, the Gospel will be from that of St. Mark. Mark’s was the first of the four Gospels to be written. It is very cryptic with less verbiage than is present in Matthew and Luke and certainly far less than you will find in St. John. Unlike Matthew and Luke, there is no mention of the birth or early life of Jesus. He appears a full grown man in the ninth verse of the first chapter. Actually, it is the first verse of chapter one that shows dramatically how cryptic Mark is in his writing. The first verse is, “This is the beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” That is the whole story in one sentence. Happily, Mark goes on to give us his sense of the Gospel and Mark will then be used as a source by both Matthew and Luke when those books are written a few years later.

Today’s readings draw on both the reality and symbolism of leprosy. In the first reading, we have Yahweh directing Moses to institute what may be the earliest documented case of quarantine. If anyone is known to have leprosy, they are to be separated, put off in isolation until one way or another either a cure or death occurs. In the Gospel, Jesus cures a leprous man. Leprosy is a terrible disease and the Church has often used the stories about lepers as a symbol for we poor sinners who are struggling to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Like leprosy, sin is a disease and if it is not isolated, actually cut out of lives, then it can destroy us.

Let’s walk for a few weeks with St. Mark but hold on to your hat. He moves quickly!

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