Archives for posts with tag: Christ

Scripture

Matthew 26: 50-54images (2)

50 Jesus said to him [Judas], “Friend, do what you are here to do.”

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him,

“Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”

 

Reflection

What strikes me first is the address to Judas.  “Friend.”   Jesus could have said, “You rascal!”, “You traitor!” — or any other term befitting the circumstances.  But that wouldn’t be Jesus.

And then there’s a second response by Jesus which also flies in the face of how we usually behave.  “Put your sword back”.   We are quick for vengeance in our society, quick to reach for arms, quick to use force.   But that is not Jesus’ way.  While we tend to think of the Old Testament quote of  “an eye for an eye”  as a biblical endorsement of the use of force (it was actually meant to ensure moderation),  Jesus refuted that by saying  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matt. 5:38-39).

Much as we seek to justify our militant ways, the one we follow to the cross is the Prince of Peace.  After all, if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be going to the cross.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help us to put our swords back.

Those angry words.  Those mean actions.

Those real swords with which we too often seek to settle things in our society and in our world.

It may be difficult for us to see how we can live safely that way.

But help us to seek and find our security in you.

And if the world takes advantage of us in the process,

strengthen us and sustain us with your love and grace.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 30-35download (1)

30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.  31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  32 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

33 Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”

34 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

35 Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

 

Reflection

What, I wonder, is behind Peter’s vehement denial that he will never desert  Jesus?   Is it — at that moment — the fervent feeling of devotion that he has for Jesus?   Is it — at that moment — the strength of his faith?   Or is it, I wonder, his pride?   Jesus has just poked all the disciples in the chest and predicted their failure to be true to him.   Peter, in a jingoistic  response, doubles down, pledging that  not only will he not desert Jesus, he’ll die with him.   These declarations, however, will soon dissipate like steam in the evening breeze.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Strengthen us, we pray, for the long journey.

Strengthen us for the challenges that we will face;  for the tests to our faith;  for the urge to flee instead of stand by your side when the cost of discipleship becomes apparent.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 26-29    download

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;  28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 

Reflection

I doubt we’ve ever told our children or grandchildren as we passed them the mashed potatoes or pizza at dinner time, “take, eat; this is my body.”   I doubt we’ve ever spoken such words even though at some points we may feel as though we could  make such a claim given the material or personal sacrifices we have made for our child(ren) or grandchild(ren).    Such words, however, come readily to our Lord as he presides over the Passover meal.   And he’s not being symbolic, for he had and will give his all for his disciples — and us.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We thank you for giving us your all,

for feeding us with your very life,

which was and continues to be

a gift of grace that leaves us filled.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 20 – 25images (1)

20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;  21 and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

23 He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.  24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”

25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

 

Reflection  by St. Francis of Assisi

I know things about you that no other person knows.  You committed many more sins than people imagine; you performed many more miracles than people believe.  In order to mount to heaven you used the floor of the Inferno to give you your momentum.  “The further down you gain your momentum,” you often used to tell me, “the higher you shall be able to reach.”  The militant Christian’s greatest worth is not his virtue, but his struggle to transform into virtue the dishonor and malice within him. 

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not offended you,

by any word or deed.

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not done

what is evil in thy sight.

Surely not I, Lord?

Surely I have not

walked away from you

as you make your way to the cross.

Surely not I, Lord?

Have I?

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26:  17 -19download

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

 

Reflection

The scene of the last supper is of course a Passover meal.  It reminds us again that Jesus was a Jew as were all the disciples.   It also recalls the Exodus of the Israelites who, at God’s command, smeared the blood of a lamb over the archways and lintel posts of their doors so that the angel of death would pass over their homes and only afflict the houses of the Egyptians.

This Jesus of ours will be similarly sacrificed so that the angel of death will pass over again, so that in Christ Jesus, we may know life eternal.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Would that we could smear some lamb’s blood on our lintel posts today to protect us from the threats and dangers of our world.   Would that we could know that the angel of death would just pass over us.   Help us to trust that in You, we find all our security, all of strength, all our comfort, all our refuge, all our freedom, all our life.

Amen

 

 

Scripture

Matthew 25: 31-36images (1)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

 

Reflection

Do you wonder about a final judgment?  About a final reckoning in which our Lord separates one from another according to how we have lived in this life?   We know that our God is a God of grace and mercy, but there also is the call for justice and righteousness.  How will that be resolved?

Of course we separate ourselves today in many ways.   By income, politics, ethnicity, and other personal characteristics or preferences.   How will these divisions stand up in the final day?

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help us, we pray, to live as you would have us live.

Bring us together over differences which otherwise drive us apart.

Help us to follow you faithfully in these Lenten days, and in all the days of our lives.

Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 25: 14 -18shovel-dirt-13241054

14  [Jesus said,]  “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents.     17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

Reflection

Five talents.  Two talents.  One talent.  And that last talent went into the ground for safe keeping.  Of course, that last slave was just being conservative.  He didn’t want to risk his master’s treasure which had been entrusted to his care.

Do we have any treasure, any talents that we’ve squirreled away for safe keeping instead of putting them to use in God’s service?  Are there any gifts that we have, or suspect that we have, that we have kept under wraps?    Have we shied away from taking risks for our Lord?

What do we risk losing?  What might we gain?

Prayer

Dear Lord,

All that we have comes from you.   You know all our gifts and all our shortcomings.   And so you know if we are living boldly or with great caution.

Give us the courage and strength to use all that you’ve graced us with.  Nurture in us a willingness to take risks for you.

And then surprise us.

Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 25: 1 -13download (1)

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.   5 As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps.

8 The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

9 But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

10 And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  12 But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’

13 Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Reflection

Lamps — check.

Oil — check.

Coffee to stay awake — check.

What’s your checklist to prepare yourself as we delve deeper into Lent?   We’re 15 days in.   Perhaps you’ve given up a favorite thing or two, and maybe you’ve made a positive commitment to DO something this Lent.   Whatever it is, I invite you to reaffirm for yourself how you’re preparing for the cross — and for the new life beyond.

Prayer  by William O’Malley

God, my Friend,

I offer You each moment of this day

whatever comes — the unexpected challenges,

diversions from my plans,

the need-filled glance,

the expectations and complaints,

the being taken for granted,

the slights and sleights-of-hand.

I’d be grateful if You could keep me aware of my pesky habits, like . . .

And, between us, perhaps we can enliven the spirits of those I live and work with, like . . .

Whatever else befalls,

I trust we can cope with it,

together.

Amen

Scripture —  Matthew 21: 33 – 39

“Listen to another parable.  images

There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce.  35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way.        37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’   39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.

Reflection

This is what I refer to as one of Jesus’ “in-your-face” parables.   If they don’t realize it immediately, the chief priests will soon grasp the symbolism that Jesus is using.  The vineyard was a common metaphor in Old Testament scripture for the nation of Israel.   God is the owner.   The first slaves sent by the owner (God) were the prophets,  and Jesus of course is the son.

This is a passage that reminds us during this Lenten season of the tremendous conflict that is brewing.   Jesus, as always, is aware of what lays before him — a grisly death.   He won’t shy away from it.  He has his work to complete, for you and for me, for the world.

Prayer

Dear God,

As we move through these Lenten days, help us to be mindful of the cost of your love.   Help us to remember how your Son confronted the powers of the day and did not flinch.   Help us to live, in our own circumstances and situations, with a touch of such bravery.

Amen

Scripture — Matthew 21: 28-32

images (2)

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.   32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Reflection

What matters most in this Christian life?  What we say or what we do?   Word or deed?  Neither son in this parable is without fault.  One is courteous and on the face obedient, but then doesn’t follow through.  The other is rude and disobedient on the face, but then ends up doing his father’s bidding.

How would our own lives fit in this parable?  Have we said yes to work in the Lord’s fields, but haven’t really followed through?   Or have we turned away from such calls, but then find ourselves in the fields at some point anyway?  How obedient are we to our Lord?

Prayer

Dear Lord,

There are many ways that you call us.   There are many ways to serve you.   Instill in us an obedience that springs from our lips as well as our limbs, so that we honor you by all we say and do.

Amen