Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's not what you swallow that pollutes your life



In Mark 7:8,14-15, 21-23  Jesus teaches that the people of God are not set apart by particular traditions or ethnicity, but by a purity that emanates from the heart, manifested by love for others. We do not need more religion, but more reflection on what proceeds from our heart. Yes, traditions can be good, and can point others to God. However, they can also send a message explicitly or implicitly, "you don't belong."

Jesus challenged the purity “laws” and turned them upside down. In their place he substituted a radically alternate social vision. The new community that Jesus announced would be characterized by interior compassion for everyone, not external compliance to a purity code, or by egalitarian inclusivity, but rather by inward transformation.

"No outcasts," writes Garry Wills in What Jesus Meant, "were cast out far enough in Jesus' world to make him shun them — not Roman collaborators, not lepers, not prostitutes, not the crazed, not the possessed. Are there people now who could possibly be outside his encompassing love?"

What "outcasts" do we sanctimoniously spurn as impure, unclean, dirty, and contaminated? 
(The Journey with Jesus: Weekly essays by Dan Clendenin )

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"To Whom Can We Go?"

Am I Going to Leave or Stay?

In John 6:56-69, the followers of Jesus have heard words they do not understand. They are repelled! It simply is impossible to believe that Jesus is inviting them to eat his flesh and drink his blood…so, many of those who had followed Jesus up to this point now walk away. They have reached an obstacle which they cannot overcome.
It is not difficult to imagine his sadness as Jesus watched them leave…He feared that he was going to be completely abandoned. So, he turns to the twelve apostles and asks them what they are going to do...

Peter speaks for us when he responds “Lord to whom can we go?”

We do all that we can in life to avoid being placed in position of vulnerability, yet in this Gospel we have the twelve surrendering control and choosing complete dependency on Jesus. That dependency reveals an ultimate statement of faith: Lord, we have no options. We have no choice but to keep following you.

Faith is deepened in situations where self-reliance is no longer possible, where it is difficult to rely on our intellect, reason or abilities.  

The process of being attracted by something in Jesus - listening to what the Word says - and then asking: “am I going to leave or stay?” is part of our spiritual journey. For most of us, it can happen many times in a lifetime. We are faced with a choice: do I accept this, or do I acknowledge that I have to grow into its meaning? And what do I do? To whom do I turn while I am growing into understanding? These are the steps we take to be totally dependent, reliant, and available to Jesus.  

This is the challenge of the Gospel and in the end our response has to be personal…to walk away…or to stay and walk further into the Mystery. (Wellspring of Scripture)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Are What You Eat

Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…John 6:51-58

Whoa!!! Imagine hearing this for the first time. Imagine hearing this without any previous experience of the Eucharist.

We know that some in the crowd took such offense at Jesus that they stopped following him because he said these things—

Jesus doesn’t soften or temper his words in the least. There’s not even a hint that he might be speaking poetically or metaphorically. He’s not quick to change the subject either.

For us, these words may have lost their offensiveness. But, Jesus didn’t drop these rhetorical bombshells so that they’d be easily forgotten. It’s clear that He was stirring the pot on purpose. He wanted to say things that challenged people.

Imagine you are attending church for the first time as this passage is read!
Imagine hearing Jesus say these words. How would you react???

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"... Know That I Loved You"

In many ways, Billy Bigelow serves as a metaphor that reminds us that no man wants to be forgotten; no person is content to be a moment in the lives of others, a negligible experience, an indifferent influence. As forceful as the urge is to live is the desire to be remembered. As insistent as survival is the desire to abide with another.
A man does not achieve fulfillment in his memory of himself but in his being remembered by others. Those who love another are anxious to remember; they know that no one truly die.(Padovano)

Friday, August 3, 2012

On Wednesday we continued with our discussion of Carousel. We observed Billy as he lay dying, pleading with Julie to “hold my hand.” We recall that during an encounter in an earlier scene during which the couple “unknowingly” professed their love, Billy boasted  I don’t need you or anyone; I got it figured out for myself... what are we… two little specks of nothing? Following his death, a despondent Julie is consoled by the chorus who sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

In many ways we see the intersection of lives as a “communion” in which we are part of His Mystical Body. While our little Carousel seems to turn oblivious to our existence, we are all connected… those who came before, those who are here today and those who are yet to come.

When Julie sings “What’s the Use of Wonderin” she sings of love without strings, without ego that overlooks human frailties… it’s an unconditional love that transforms the one who loves and all those who are loved... 

Something made him the way that he is,
Whether he's false or true,
And something gave him the things that are his,
One of those things is you