c. J. Patrick Mahon, 2013
. . . When you come to serve the Creator,
stand in justice and fear,
prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast,
incline your ear and receive the word of understanding,
undisturbed in time of adversity.
Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will you be wise in all your ways.
Dictionary.com defines wisdom as “knowledge of what is true or right couples with just judgment as to action.” Wisdom is dancing at the dawn of creation. Alternatively, wisdom has been defined as the Word (the Cosmic Christ) before creation and/or the Holy Spirit. In Thomas Merton’s poem to wisdom, Hagia Sophia, wisdom represents all that is tender, merciful and compassionate. Wisdom becomes, so to speak, the feminine face of God: Continue reading
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth. (Jn 17)
As I write, Washington is abuzz with Benghazi and improper acts by the IRS and Justice Department. In terms of John’s Gospel, this is the world Jesus has left us in. Indeed, we need his protection from the wiles of the Evil One. We have been consecrated in truth. Like Pilate, we may ask, “What is truth?” Gospel truth is first and foremost, according to Walter Brueggemann, the realization that it is not about me. It is about us, especially the least among us—often described as the powerless widow, orphan and immigrant in the Bible. Continue reading
Spring–new life, new hope.
c. J. P. Mahon, 2013
I am watching a DVD of one of The Great Courses, Myth in Human History. Professor Grant Voth, Monterey Peninsula College, is a great teacher. Dealing with creation myths, Professor Voth discusses one type of creation myth labeled world-parent myths. These are myths in which a primal pair is broken up. What was once one is now multiple and separate. As in Cain and Abel in genesis, violence often ensues.
You do not have to watch Faux News or any other news channel for that matter to know that we are broken, divided, separate, and often in conflict situations. The current politics in Washington is a politic of division—us versus them. Win-lose scenarios repeat themselves hourly. Continue reading
Rain nurturing spring growth
Jesus often used agricultural metaphors with which his followers were familiar. The vine and branches in John is one of the many beautiful images used by Jesus to teach his message:
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
When we are in union with the Risen Cosmic Christ we are like fruitful vines in the vineyard. From these very vines rich wines will flow. I have read this passage many times; however, I find the footnotes in the Anselm Academic Study Bible to be very helpful. One reviewer ranked it above the Oxford Study Bible. My feeling is that the scriptures are so rich with deeper meaning that we can never have enough study bibles. In fact, I had never given much thought to the part about withering, unfruitful branches being thrown into the fire. When vines died and withered they were hung up to dry so they could later be used for fuel.
God loves us and finds us before we can find God. There is never really a time when we are withering if we place ourselves in God’s presence. We can do nothing to earn avoid withering. The only thing we can do is to constantly place ourselves in the presence of the Presence. The Vinedresser will grow us. The Vinedresser will nurture and nourish us so that we produce good fruit—the choicest wines of the Reign of God. When we drink from the cup we are one with the Risen Cosmic Christ without whom we can do nothing, nada, zilch!
The first reading from Acts 15 is also noteworthy. Would that our elected officials and we the citizens could learn how to resolve our disagreements the way the early church did. The controversy, fueld by Pharisees who had become followers of the Way, was whether Gentile converts had to follow all the Jewish ritual practices. Note that the Pharisees main thrust was to add requirement upon requirement to the Torah. Jesus did NOT reject Jewish Torah practice, especially the care for neighbor thrust of the Deuteronomic strand. Jesus was a Jew and followed the Torah; however, he was vehemently opposed burdening people with ritualistic requirements.
Paul and Peter understood that God’s new reign was inclusive. All are welcomed in the Kin-dom and at the banquet table. Paul did not send angry emails to James and the church in Jerusalem. He and his companions went up to Jerusalem—a show of humility and a sign of openness to resolving differences. Once they met, the matter was resolved on the side of inclusivity with minimal restrictions. How wonderful it would be if the body politic and the elected leaders could build bridges instead of walls!
Ground Hog in our Backyard
There is a pained and poignant question in today’s reading from John. The dense disciples are still asking for proof from Jesus. Jesus turns to Phillip and says, “Have I been with you for all this time and still you do not know me?”
This is a heart-penetrating question that could well be addressed to each and every one of us. Jesus has been with us 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years or more and yet we still act as if we do not know him. Continue reading
Jesus speaks words of comfort. In doing so he tells us the secret of living with God. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith in me too.” Eileen Wirth in her Creighton Daily Reflection for today says that life is a mystery. In the sixties we often said that life is a mystery and not a problem to be solved. All the technology in the world will not solve the mysteries of living in an evolving world. Metaphorically, the place Jesus is preparing for us is a place where we come to wisdom, where we come to “understand” life in all its dimensions. Wirth concludes:
My wish for all of us today is that whether we are in a wonderful place in life or suffering through an awful episode or illness, that we will have the faith to let go and to let God. It’s hard to surrender control but, as today’s Gospel tells us, the only way to live is by faith. (http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/042613.html) Continue reading
In Peter’s letter, the author refers to the devil as prowling around like a roaring lion waiting to devour you. Some literal minded Christians personify the devil. At times he shows up with horns, a tail and cloven feet. I much prefer to see “the devil” as a metaphor for the evil that exists in unfinished creation. Evil roamed about like a roaring lion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
At times it seems as if some evil force messes with our lives. The Buddha, the Christ, and Peter tell us that we will suffer, that things will go wrong, “The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little, To him be dominion forever, Amen.” Continue reading
For some, the label “Christian” comes to be a badge of honor that distinguishes them from other people. They claim salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus.
The Jesus thing has to drill deeper. It has to unearth the Christ. All the biblical roots for the Christ are grounded on one thing, one key element—justice. Let justice roar down like a mighty river. Justice is right order and the Christ is about right order in the cosmos, our institutions, and our lives. Absent a burning desire to bring about the Kin-dom which is all about justice, a personal relationship does little but deceive the person who claims it. Continue reading
c. J. P. Mahon, 2013
Peter is hanging out with non-Jews. Tribal religion is on the way out after a brief struggle in the early church. God is the creator God of all peoples. With God nobody is out. All are in. It is really a shame that organized religion has reverted to tribalism. Some are in. Others are out. It is that simple especially in patriarchal religion.
Reading this reminds me of a story told by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne in Red Letter Revolution. It seems that St. Peter is a bit confused. He has discovered that there are more people in heaven than appear on his check-in ledger. What is going on? Peter gets his answer. Jesus has been letting people over the wall. Peter is in charge of the main gate. This squares with John 10. Jesus is the good shepherd, Jesus is the gate. The sheep hear his voice. If they hear his voice there is no need for the ecclesiastical seal of approval. Churchy people want to increase border security and control the main gate. No “Strangers” will slip into the kingdom they guard so carefully. Wanna bet? Continue reading
c. J. P. Mahon, 2013
The Lectionary Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter assure us of God’s care. In Acts, Peter does the extraordinary—he raises Dorcas from the dead. Yet, we are more likely to encounter the Divine in the ordinariness of our lives. Yes, there are peak moments but after the Easter alleluias subside and spring is working toward summer, life often is rather ordinary.
Luis Rodrigues, SJ, writing in the Creighton Daily Reflection, urges us to seek God in the ordinary. We can only do this if we are aware of God’s ever-caring presence to us and for us. (http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/042013.html) Continue reading