22 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 22 April 2013

On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain. His disciples were pulling off heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands to get rid of the chaff, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?”

But Jesus stood up for them. “Have you never read what David and those with him did when they were hungry? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat? He also handed it out to his companions.”

Then he said, “The Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.”

On another Sabbath he went to the meeting place and taught. There was a man there with a crippled right hand. The religion scholars and Pharisees had their eye on Jesus to see if he would heal the man, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction. He knew what they were up to and spoke to the man with the crippled hand: “Get up and stand here before us.” He did.

Then Jesus addressed them, “Let me ask you something: What kind of action suits the Sabbath best? Doing good or doing evil? Helping people or leaving them helpless?”

He looked around, looked each one in the eye. He said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” He held it out—it was as good as new! They were beside themselves with anger, and started plotting how they might get even with him.

A buddy and I were at a local pub having a drink and fixing all the worlds ills. Throughout the night, our conversation got into some pretty deep things. I noticed a young man in the opposite booth edging his way closer and closer to us. At one point, he interrupted our conversation stating that he didn’t agree with what we were saying. We went back and forth for a little bit and then he said, “You guys sure don’t act like Christians!”

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“Here you are, drinking and smoking your pipes. And yet, I can sense the love of Christ in you. It’s just that you’re so different than what I was told Christians are supposed to be like. It makes me very hopeful.”

Too often, religious people set up rules about how a “real” follower of Jesus is supposed to act. People shouldn’t drink or swear or smoke or eat meat or go to the movies or dance or listen to rock music or watch movies or play bingo or get tattoos or wear certain clothes, etc., ad nauseam. Whatever it is or can be, I’m pretty certain some religious tradition has a rule about it. Why, just the other day, my wife and I saw a sign about worshipping on Saturday, the “real” sabbath day.

But what we have failed to realize is that Jesus is beyond all of those rules and laws. He’s “in charge,” not them. Like St. Paul wrote in Romans 14:

Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

Notice that last sentence and really let it sink in, “Each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.” Why? How can Paul make such a statement? Because of Jesus. Jesus changed everything. Our religious practices are based on our own “convictions of conscience” and not dictated by some religious system.

This is what Jesus meant when he said he in charge of the Sabbath. He is the Sovereign of all creation. All of the religious tradition in Judaism pointed, not to itself, but to the Messiah; to Jesus himself.

This is further shown by Jesus healing the man in the synagogue. The keepers of the religious tradition, the Religious Elite, don’t like it when their traditions are challenged. And this happens even today.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Jesus has come. The Realm of G_d has been established and continues to grow and bring release to the captives, gives sight to the blind, heal the sick, feed the hungry, bringing reconciliation to the entire cosmos.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

~~~
Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

19 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 19 April 2013


Jesus was in one of the towns where there was also a man covered with a skin disease. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged, “Lord, if you want, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean.” Instantly, the skin disease left him. Jesus ordered him not to tell anyone. “Instead,” Jesus said, “go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses instructed. This will be a testimony to them.” News of him spread even more and huge crowds gathered to listen and to be healed from their illnesses. But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.

One day when Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and legal experts were sitting nearby. They had come from every village in Galilee and Judea, and from Jerusalem. Now the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal. Some men were bringing a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. They wanted to carry him in and place him before Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they took him up on the roof and lowered him—cot and all—through the roof tiles into the crowded room in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The legal experts and Pharisees began to mutter among themselves, “Who is this who insults God? Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus recognized what they were discussing and responded, “Why do you fill your minds with these questions? Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins” —Jesus now spoke to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, get up, take your cot, and go home.” Right away, the man stood before them, picked up his cot, and went home, praising God.

All the people were beside themselves with wonder. Filled with awe, they glorified God, saying, “We’ve seen unimaginable things today.”

A few days ago, I stated that spirituality is not just a private enterprise. It has a place in every part of life, including public life. Our story today makes that exact point in a number of ways. First off, when Jesus healed the man with the skin disease, he told him to go and show himself to the priest. The reason for this is because the man was completely ostracized because of his disease. According to the Law of Moses, “Anyone with an infection of skin disease must wear torn clothes, dishevel their hair, cover their upper lip, and shout out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ They will be unclean as long as they are infected. They are unclean. They must live alone outside the camp” (compare Numbers 5.1-4).

I’m reminded of that scene in Philadelphia where Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) tells Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) that he has AIDS. Andrew walks into Joe’s office. While Joe’s shaking Andy’s hand, he asks, “What happened to your face?”

“I have AIDS,” Andy replies.

Joe, visibly shaken, let’s go of Andy’s hand. “Oh...”

Joe backs away.

“Oh...I’m sorry.”

Joe keeps backing away until he get to the other side of the office.

It’s a very powerful scene. It only lasts about 30 seconds, but you can feel the tension and “icky-ness” of Joe’s actions. You see the injustice and inhumanity of it played out right in front of you.

That’s what this Law did to people in Jesus’ culture. That’s the life of this man. He was ostracised from society and human contact. He was banished.

Furthermore, if someone came in contact with anything “unclean,” they, too, would be unclean and have to follow all of the purity laws (see this excellent article about this). This shows that the man’s question to Jesus is a loaded question. The man knows if Jesus touches him, Jesus will become unclean. Jesus knows this, too. That’s why his response is so moving - “Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do want to. Be clean’.”

Touch is a profoundly intimate action. Notice that Jesus touches the man before he speaks. John O’Donohue wrote,

With your hands, you reach out to touch the world. In human touch, hands find the hands, face, or body of the Other. Touch brings presence home. The activity of touch brings us close to the world of the Other…. Touch communicates belonging, tenderness, and warmth… At the highest moments of human intensity, words become silent. Then the language of touch really speaks. When you are lost in the black valley of pain, words grow frail and dumb. To be embraced and held warmly brings the only shelter and consolation.

That is what happened to this man. Jesus entered into his world and brought him to the Realm of G_d. All with a touch.

While one scene shows Jesus breaking societal mores and religious traditions on the outskirts of town, the next story shows him doing that right smack dab in the middle of town! In someone’s home, no less. One can’t get more public than that.

The part that’s surprising to me is not the healing of the lame man. Nor is it the faith of his friends. Nor is it the reaction of the crowd. The part that surprises me the most is the reaction from the Religious Elite. And it’s not even what they say that’s surprising. It’s what is going unsaid that actually illuminating.

What’s going unsaid is that they know full well that, certainly, G_d is the one who forgives sins, the bigger issue is that this man’s sins were forgiven without the need of the Temple or Mosaic Law. In other words, they are becoming obsolete. Their importance is waning. The need of the people to come to them for access to G_d is diminishing. If G_d is now forgiving and healing people on the street (like the man in the previous story) or in homes (like this one), then the Temple period is coming to an end. Soon, everyone will have access to G_d without the need of religious systems. Their power and control over the people is just about over.

And that’s what jars them the most.

This is why, to me, religious systems today are such a problem. It’s like we have forgotten (or chose to turn a blind eye to) what G_d did through Jesus. The Realm of G_d was established. The reality arrived to which those religious systems pointed. As I have said before, if we have arrived at the reality, we don’t need the signs any more.

This passage is leading us to practice our praxis in public, in the world, under the judgmental eye of those in power. May G_d grant us the grace and the courage to do just that.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

18 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 18 April 2013


One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”

Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.”

So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.

There is something Otherworldly about deep water. Recently there was a Discovery channel program called Monster Squid. It was the first time that a giant squid was filmed in its natural habitat. The only known predator of the giant squid is the sperm whale. They are known to live in depths ranging from 300-1000 meters. In the show, one can barely see the squid approaching the bait out of the murky deep. It’s a rather startling thing to see.

In the story above, Jesus tells Peter to “row out farther, into the deep water.” That’s where new things are discovered. Things about the world. Things about ourselves.

Jesus calls us to the deep found within ourselves. He is calling us to move past all of the falseness, the superficial, and get to our true selves - the part of ourselves where the Light of creation resides, where the darkness, the falseness, can’t ever overcome it.

It’s there, in the silence of the deep, that G_d is experienced. And, as we see in the story, what we experience isn’t just for us alone. It’s for others. What we find deep in ourselves is for all creation. Like Peter, we say, “Master, because you say so, we’ll go deeper and bring back life for the whole world.”



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

17 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 17 April 2013

After leaving the synagogue, Jesus went home with Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a high fever, and the family asked Jesus to help her. He bent over her and spoke harshly to the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and served them.

When the sun was setting, everyone brought to Jesus relatives and acquaintances with all kinds of diseases. Placing his hands on each of them, he healed them. Demons also came out of many people. They screamed, “You are God’s Son.” But he spoke harshly to them and wouldn’t allow them to speak because they recognized that he was the Christ. When daybreak arrived, Jesus went to a deserted place. The crowds were looking for him. When they found him, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must preach the good news of God’s kingdom in other cities too, for this is why I was sent.” So he continued preaching in the Judean synagogues.

My Mom liked to watch Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman. One night I told her I couldn’t stand the show. “Why?” she asked.

“Because it destroys the women’s movement! It distracts from the struggle women have had in being accepted as equals. Young girls watching the show are completely oblivious of how their Grandmothers had to fight for even the right to be seen as human beings. The show makes it seem like women have always had the rights they do now. If this were more authentic, she wouldn’t ‘get’ to do a third of what the show portrays.”

The same thing happens when some of us read the Bible. We come to it with the way we understand things today - with our views of justice and equality - and when we read stories in the Bible to don’t line up with that view, we’re appalled. We think that it’s horrible and that it’s unfair and on and on.

And we’d be right.

If we were reading a newspaper article about a story in modern day Israel.

But we’re not. We’re reading ancient history. The way of life for them is far, far removed from our way of life today. The things that we feel are “right” would have been blasphemous on one hand and possibly life threatening on the other. What we have to do when reading the Bible (or any other historical book) is hard work - we have to dig to find out what society what like for the people we’re reading about.

And I find this rather odd.

When one reads, I don’t know, Shakespeare, one doesn’t get offended at the way the women were treated or the fact that there were slaves. “That the way things were,” we say rather smugly.

But, read a biblical passage like the one today, and our “righteous indignation” starts to flare up! “The Bible supports the subjugation of women,” some of us spout with ruffled feathers, shaking our fist in the air.

However, that’s not what this passage is about.

Not by a long shot.

This passage is about the rescue of a person as an outcast and returning her to her societally accepted state. The fact that Peter’s mother-in-law served her guests was the “right” thing to do in their context. It would have been rude and, dare I say, blasphemous, if she didn’t serve them. Am I saying that women should “serve” men? Am I saying that they are “less than” men? If you knew me, you would know just how silly those questions are.

I’m saying that what we see in this story is the inclusion of women in the Realm of G_d. And not just in the “role” of subordinate - but in the “role” of an acting participant. Being hospitable in Eastern culture is an admirable and “right” thing to be, whether one is female or male. To be less than hospitable is to bring shame and disgrace upon one’s family for generations.

Sure, later on, Pete and his mother-in-law could challenge the role of women in their society (and we have biblical record that the church did just that), but not at that moment. To challenge it then, and please hear what I’m about to say, would have probably been the absolute desolation of people following Jesus. The little movement would have been wiped out before it had even started. All of Jesus’ followers would have probably ended up like him - tortured and nailed to a cross as an example to all those who would challenge accepted societal mores. It would take several hundred years before the equality of women would come into the spotlight. And what we have today still needs to be challenged.

What we see in this story is a beacon of hope for people who are marginalized and considered outcasts by society. It’s the first step towards their ultimate freedom and equality. It’s a sign of hope that, through Jesus, the world has been put to rights and we must strive to make that reconciliation a reality in all corners of creation.

One of the earliest Christian documents states, “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The reconciliation has taken place. It’s now up to us to make it a reality for everyone.

The rest of the passage paints that very picture. The demoniac was delivered and restored to her family. The person stricken with a fatal disease was healed and able to return to his loved ones. And not only in that one specific location; that isolated geography. The reconciliation was for “other cities,” too. It was for all creation:

Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him,
and he reconciled all things to himself through him—
whether things on earth or in the heavens.
He brought peace through the blood of his cross.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

16 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 16 April 2013

Jesus went down to the city of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people each Sabbath. They were amazed by his teaching because he delivered his message with authority.

A man in the synagogue had the spirit of an unclean demon. He screamed, “Hey! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the holy one from God.”

“Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!” The demon threw the man down before them, then came out of him without harming him.

They were all shaken and said to each other, “What kind of word is this, that he can command unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave?” Reports about him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

“Religion should be a private matter,” he said to her, the vein bulging on his forehead. “Keep it out of the public square!

“It has every bearing on society,” she rebutted, putting down her sign. “If it’s only for private experiences, then it’s worthless.”

Along with friends and strangers who felt the same way, Amanda was picketing the state capitol. There was a heavy debate going on about the death penalty. She, and several other clergy, were against it. Their signs were about peace and forgiveness with different religious sayings on them. The young man came up to Amanda talking about the separation of church and state. He then began to attack her because she was a priest. Things went downhill from there.

This little scenario gets played out more than one would like to admit. When our daughter was younger, the war in Iraq was in full steam. During the summer, she was part of a Peace Camp at a local church. One day, the Peace Campers gathered at a busy intersection holding up signs that said, “Honk for Peace” and “Stop the War.” One guy drove by yelling that they hated America.

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that The Way of Jesus is not about private spirituality. Jesus’ confrontation with the possessed man was not just a spiritual battle. It was also public battle. It took place in the synagogue in front of several people. The text says that they were “all shaken” by the outcome. It moved them.

Not only was it a public confrontation, it also had social ramifications. This man would now be able to be part of society, no longer seen and treated like an outcast. He would be able to now contribute to society - buy and sell goods, attend meetings, shape public policy, worship.

The Realm of G_d is not just a private phenomenon. It’s a global phenomena. G_d’s Realm is not only concerned with the souls of people but the policies of government and the mores of society. When we choose to follow The Way of Jesus, “reports about [us should] spread everywhere.”



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

15 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 15 April 2013


Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit, and soon people across the region had heard news of Him. He would regularly go into their synagogues and teach. His teaching earned Him the respect and admiration of everyone who heard Him.

He eventually came to His hometown, Nazareth, and did there what He had done elsewhere in Galilee—entered the synagogue and stood up to read from the Hebrew Scriptures.

The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words:

The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.
Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.
He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they [are] now set free,
and to tell the blind that they can now see.
He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.
In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time;
this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One’s grace.

Jesus rolled up the scroll and returned it to the synagogue attendant. Then He sat down, as a teacher would do, and all in the synagogue focused their attention on Jesus, waiting for Him to speak. He told them that these words from the Hebrew Scriptures were being fulfilled then and there, in their hearing.

At first everyone was deeply impressed with the gracious words that poured from Jesus’ lips. Everyone spoke well of Him and was amazed that He could say these things.

Everyone: Wait. This is only the son of Joseph, right?

Jesus: You’re about to quote the old proverb to Me, “Doctor, heal yourself!” Then you’re going to ask Me to prove Myself to you by doing the same miracles I did in Capernaum. But face the truth: hometowns always reject their homegrown prophets.

Think back to the prophet Elijah. There were many needy Jewish widows in his homeland, Israel, when a terrible famine persisted there for three and a half years. Yet the only widow God sent Elijah to help was an outsider from Zarephath in Sidon.

It was the same with the prophet Elisha. There were many Jewish lepers in his homeland, but the only one he healed—Naaman—was an outsider from Syria.

The people in the synagogue became furious when He said these things. They seized Jesus, took Him to the edge of town, and pushed Him right to the edge of the cliff on which the city was built. They would have pushed Him off and killed Him, but He passed through the crowd and went on His way.

I’ve gone to number of seminars or retreats about finding G_d’s will for one’s life. But none of them ever talked about this passage. When Jesus read the passage from Isaiah 61.1-2, he was saying that this was his vocation; that this was G_d’s will for his life.

And this is G_d’s will for people who follow Jesus, too.

That is our vocation. In John’s telling of Jesus’ story, Jesus said, “In the same way the Father-Mother sent me, I am now sending you.” And the way that the Father-Mother sent Jesus was as G_d’s representative. To preach good news to the poor. To free the imprisoned. To give sight to the blind. To liberate the oppressed. To proclaim that the time had finally arrived for G_d’s Realm to come “on earth as it is in heaven.” We are called to follow this same way - The Way of Jesus.

Also notice the timing of the fulfillment of Isaiah 61, “Now is the time.” This isn’t something that takes place in the future. This took place in the past! It began with the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and it continues on to this day through those who follow The Way.

Have you ever wondered why the people “became furious” with Jesus at what he said? It’s because Jesus insinuated that G_d rescued “an outsider” before G_d’s people. In other words, G_d sided with the “outsider.”

In the same way, when people of The Way dare to implement G_d’s Realm in spite of their religious traditions, those traditions react - and sometimes they react violently. When we dare say things like, “Look at how G_d is moving in the Muslim community,” or “We can see G_d’s hand in the midst of those seeking marriage equality,” or “G_d is there, in the hearts and lives of the Palestinian people,” people from our own traditions may “become furious.” When we dare say that G_d is actually rescuing the pagan before G_d is rescuing those in “the church,” we may find a fight on our hands. When we stand with those who are for stricter gun laws or those who oppose socialized gender constructs, our own families may be against us.

But that is what this story is telling us we must do. G_d’s Realm is not limited by our limitations. G_d’s Realm is not stopped at the border between us and Mexico. Through Jesus, G_d is rescuing all creation - not just “us” and “our” group, but “them” and “their group.” And sometimes, G_d rescues “them” before “us.”



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC


~~~
*  The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

10 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 8 April 2013


When Jesus finished saying these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that the Son can glorify you. You gave him authority over everyone so that he could give [aiōnion] life to everyone you gave him. This is [aiōnion] life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I shared with you before the world was created.

“I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. This is because I gave them the words that you gave me, and they received them. They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

“I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them. I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one.

This passage used to such a big deal when I was a Calvinist. They’re really hung up on Jesus only dying for “the elect.” Therefore, as it seems from this passage, Jesus is only praying for the elect. He doesn’t seem to care about anyone else and certainly not “the world.”

But I think we need to keep this in context. His focus throughout this time has been on his closest friends and loved ones. That focus continues through to this prayer. He knows that when he leaves, it’s going to bring sorrow. There’s also going to be trouble from the same “world” (i.e., the world of first century Judaism) for them just as there was for him. So, that’s where his concern lies. He’s not praying for the “world” because his focus is on his friends. I think to read anything more into his words here means we have to leave that context.

Also, a lot of people question what “eternal life” means. In this passage, Jesus answered that question -

“This is aiōnion life: to know you, the only true G_d, and Jesus the Christ whom you sent.”

As I’ve been doing throughout this series, I’ve used the transliteration of the Greek word instead of the erroneous English translation. The word aiōnion does not mean “everlasting” or “eternal.” It means “age-long” or “taking on the character or quality of an age.” In other words, what Jesus brought to this world’s realm is the quality or character of G_d’s Realm. Life in that Realm is made up of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5.22-23). We can experience that right now. Today. At this moment. And that same Life extends into the next age. That’s the gist of what aiōnion means. Because of Jesus, all creation can experience that Life right now. The gate has been opened and the Life of the ages is slowly filling up the world like the “water covers the sea.



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

07 April 2013

Easter Daily Gospel Reflection - 7 April 2013


“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.”

Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him.”

“Haven’t you watched that already,” my wife asked as she came into the living room.

“Yes, but Marty hasn’t. Besides, it’s one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who,” I said grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

That’s kind of how I feel about this passage. Not that it’s one of my favorites, but it seems that the creators of the lectionary really like it and want to make sure people read it. For those of you who missed it, we just read this passage a week ago on Monday, 1 April. I suppose the thought is, if you only read the Daily Lectionary passages each week, they want make sure you get this one!

As we said there, this passage is used quite a lot to show that following Jesus is the only way to heaven. But that’s not really what Jesus said. Jesus isn’t as dualistic as we are. Heaven’s not even in the passage. I mean, I get it. People automatically assume that “heaven” is where G_d lives. But that place - that space or dimension - is not a long way away from here. In fact, it infuses all of creation and is only separated by a thin veil.

There’s a great story from the Jewish scriptures that may help us grasp this. The kingdom of Aram was attacking Israel. They would draw up secret plans to send out raiding parties and attack Israel during the night. However, at every turn, Israel was ready for them. The king of Aram just knew he had a spy from Israel in his camp.

“Who has betrayed me and sided with Israel?” he demanded.

“No one, your Majesty,” his servant replied. “It’s the prophet Elisha. Somehow he knows what we’re planning and tell his king. He even knows the very secrets you whisper in your bedchamber.”

“I need to find out where he is so we can put a stop to this,” the king raged.

“He’s in Dothan, your Majesty.”

“Send out the troops and surround the city. Do whatever you have to, but bring me that prophet. I want him kneeling before me and begging for his life!”

Early the next morning, Elisha’s servant went out to fetch some water. He was horrified by what he saw. As far as he could see, in every direction, the city was surrounded by the Aramean army. There was no way out. Quickly, he ran back to wake Elisha.

“Master!” he called. “Master wake up! We’re surrounded! What are we going to do?”

Sitting on the edge of his bed and rubbing his eyes, Elisha said, “Don’t be afraid. We outnumber them.”

“But you don’t understand! The enemy has surrounded the city! There’s no way out!”

Elisha prayed, “Eternal One, open his eyes so that my servant may see the way things really are.”

And while the servant was looking out the window, the veil between the realms of this world was removed and he could see. Everywhere he looked, the army of G_d, with horses and chariots and warriors more than he could count, lit up the earth like the sun at midday. It looked like the entire city was ablaze with fire.

That’s what our world is actually like. The veil between this world’s realm and the Realm of G_d is as shear as gossamer. The issue is we don’t see it.

When Jesus talks about preparing a place for others, he’s not talking about traveling to a galaxy far, far away. He’s talking about making a way for others to see, to experience G_d the same way he does, now, in this life. And, there’s only one way that others can experience G_d that way. And it’s not by following the Christian religion. Besides, which version would we have to follow? The Roman Catholic way? The Eastern Orthodox way? The way of the Church of Christ? The way of the Southern Baptists? The way of the Calvinists and Reformed?

No.

The only way to G_d is through the way of Jesus. That is, living the life he lived. Of being Christ in this world’s realm. Of giving up of ourselves for the sake of others. The Way of Jesus is not about religion. The Way of Jesus is the Way of Love. It’s loving others to the point of putting one’s own life aside for the Other.

That’s the way to G_d. That’s the only way. If we are on a route that has self-sacrificial love and life as it’s foundation, then we are on The Way.

Whatever path you follow push on till tomorrow
Love all serve all and create no sorrow
So many rivers but they all reach the sea
They telling me he’s different but I just don’t believe it
Love is the goal, yes, and everyone shall reach it
Whoever seeks it
Seen and unseen



~~~
In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC