Thursday, April 30, 2015
Last evening we experienced some unusual light as rain clouds showed up here and there. As it came close to setting, the sun threw this rainbow into the eastern sky.
Once the disciples in Jerusalem were convinced that Paul's conversion was genuine, he was allowed to come and go among them. Like every recent convert to anything, Paul was on fire with his news about Jesus. He argued so fiercely with some of the Jews that they threatened to kill him. The disciples "sent him on his way to Tarsus."
Reading between the lines, I get the impression that they sent him home to Tarsus so the Christians could keep a low profile and spread the Gospel more quietly. They probably also hoped he would cool down.
When Paul surfaces several chapters later in the Acts of the Apostles, he is still on fire.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
On our way from 2500 feet to sea level we passed lots of red bud (named apparently by some color blind botanist.) I really like it, but it doesn't grow at our altitude.
The fifteenth chapter of John's Gospel is very rich for reflection. Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches...Remain in me as I remain in you." The word "remain" is used eight times in the first seven verses. It translates the Greek verb "meno," which is its source. That verb is also translated: abide, dwell, endure. It carries the idea of permanence, "to stay for good." Jesus intends our intimate union with him to last forever.
This Wednesday morning it was 32 degrees and frost before a bright sunrise at 6:44 AM.
Monday we dropped from 2500 feet to near sea level. Lilacs and dogwood in full bloom. Spring green leaves open on the trees. What a contrast with the picture on the last blog!
Moving into Glory.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Johnny Mathis sang a song, "The Twelfth of Never," that included a line, "Melt my heart like April snow."
Yesterday morning about 11 a hard rain turned to snow and continued for several hours. Snow laid quickly on fields and lawns and trees and bushes. Mid-day the roads even became slushy. About 2:30 PM the sun broke through and by evening the snow was all gone.
Monday, April 20, 2015
If Jesus had only lived and preached and suffered and died, his memory would probably have died out within a few years. The Resurrection made all the difference. It was the earliest Christians' experience of the Risen Jesus that made Christianity a religion for all time and all places.
The earliest Christians had a vivid awareness that the Risen Jesus was living within them. St. Paul's letters, which he began writing in the year 50, are full of this awareness. Jesus was sharing with them his new life beyond death and he was making them good here and now by sharing his own goodness with them. It was this intimate religious experience of the Risen Jesus that kept the story of Jesus alive.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Walking Sunday I saw the leaves of this red oak clinging to their branch. It sent me to a favorite poem, which now in light of my December heart attack, becomes more meaningful to me.
The Red Oak
Among the four seasons' perpetual jokes
Is the winter appearance of overdressed oaks.
Refusing to fall with the sleet and snow
Oak leaves cling, lifelike, through fifty-below
Until they are nudged by the force of the sap
Rising to fashion the oak a spring wrap.
I hope when it's autumn and winter for me
I can look as alive as the overdressed tree
And during the lengthening nights I can cling
To my wits and my heart--the tokens of spring--
Only releasing them into the sod
The moment I'm dressed in the glory of God.
(This poem was written by Jon Hassler for his novel Simon's Night. I think that's the one. I have read most of his novels and like them all. North of Hope is my favorite, perhaps because the main character is a priest.)
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Christianity is born as a religion because of the resurrection experience of Christ's followers. It is born, not because of what Jesus said and did in his lifetime, but because of the experience and conviction of his followers after his death.
They experienced the Risen Jesus alive in a new way that made it possible for him to live within them and enable them to live in this new way, not just in the future, but right now. They saw the Risen Jesus as the beginning of a new way of being human. Resurrection meant the transformation of all humans throughout all time.
On the basis of this remarkable and powerful claim, Christians within twenty-five years established communities from Jerusalem to Rome. A witness to the power of their religious experience.
Monday, April 13, 2015
Some forsythia blooming today very close to the warm earth.
Easter is too explosive to let it go. We continue this coming Sunday with Luke's account of Jesus' appearing to the disciples on the evening of the Resurrection (24:35-48.) What struck me most in meditating on this passage was Luke's skill in capturing the enormous mix of feelings that the disciples felt on first seeing the Risen Lord. They were alarmed, frightened, agitated, doubting, joyful, unbelieving, dumbfounded. We are right there with them happy and amazed and wondering how Jesus can still be a complete human being with body and soul, yet so transformed by the Resurrection that he can appear out of thin air? that he can live within us? that he can transform all creation from beginning to end?
Friday, April 10, 2015
In John's Gospel passage about "Doubting Thomas," Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." The only disciple in the last chapters of John's Gospel who fits that description is "the disciple whom Jesus loved." It is likely that this mysterious figure is the writer reaponsible for this fourth Gospel. Jesus is blessing him and his community and all the future communities of believers.
The love of Jesus creates our faith.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
I've been keeping this blog for eight years. I started April 9, 2007, at the urging of a friend. It's easy to go down the column on the right and click on the date to read some of my early entries, several without pictures.
My earliest inspiration to spend a lot of my retirement time here in contemplation will continue to be my goal in this extra time that God has given me.
Patricia Hempl asked a 60 year old nun who had been a contemplative since she was 19,
"Can you say what the core of contemplative life is?'
Without hesitation the nun said, "Leisure."
When I told a monk working in the monastery garden that friends didn't agree with my plans for retirement, he said, "People have a hard time understanding that being is more valuable than doing."
Monday, April 6, 2015
(No blossoms yet this year. This is from March 27, 2012!)
Because of my open heart surgery, I was not able to wash feet at the Holy Thursday Mass, but I did concelebrate with the pastor. Just before Mass started they said they were short the 12 people to have their feet washed. I volunteered.
When I returned to the chair after having my foot washed I could not bend over far enough to put my sock on. A woman in the front pew noticed. She came up, knelt down before me, and put on my sock and shoe. I was moved to tears by her thoughtfulness. Only later did it occur to me that she was doing what the pastor was doing and what Jesus had done. This may not have occurred to her. She saw a need and took care.
Saturday, April 4, 2015
God's purpose is to make us good, to wipe away all of our failures. By loving the dead Jesus into a brand new kind of life God accomplishes this purpose without any help from us. This "new" Jesus now lives within us and shares his own goodness with us. God's love is greater than our failures. Easter is the joyful triumph of God's amazing love.
Friday, April 3, 2015
I just spent a long time listening to Messiaen's Visions de l'Amen, a new favorite, and Victoria's Responsories for Tenebrae, an old favorite and feel like I've been in heaven. That feeling was helped by Georgia O'Keeffe's Black Cross and the sliver of gold and orange behind it.
On my walk today a friend called from a distant city and said that yesterday at Mass a man came up to her to thank her. He said that several years ago on her way back from communion she had shared her communion with him and he has been going to communion ever since. My friend told me that she had noticed that he didn't go to communion, so she shared hers and said, "This is a banquet. Everybody eats."