1st rdg Dt 26:410 giving God first fruits – giving worship & honor to God
psalm 91 be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble
2nd rdg Rom 10:8-13 all will be saved
gospel Lk 4:1-13 Jesus’ experience of & response to three temptations
Is our life in the desert/monastery a life of fasting from sin? Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days where he ate nothing. The monk works to curb the appetites so as to experience the real hunger – the true hunger – hunger for God. But we are no less susceptible to our temptations and no less engaged in the seeking of our true identity in this desert than Jesus was in that desert. We are no more called to embrace the humanity which is our path to divinity than Jesus was and no less called to understand the interplay of human and divine than was Jesus himself. Read today’s gospel as a lesson in Christology if you will, and recognize that the Lord is fully human and fully divine as the dialogue with Satan reveals. Recognize in these scripture passages a call to a deeper faith that is at the same time the Lenten call to ongoing conversion (metanoia) for all believers and which is our vow of ‘conversatio morum’ if we allow the full meaning of our vocation to monastic life to take root in us.Read More »
1st rdg Mic 5:1-4a from you will come forth one to rule Israel/feed flock
Psalm 80 Lord make us turn to you, let us see your face and we …
2nd rdg Heb 10:5-10 I come to do your will/ sanctified thru offering of JC
gospel Lk 1:39-45 visitation/why has mother of my Lord come to me?/blessed is she who believed
There is something about the encounter in today’s gospel that makes us think about how much we long for the encounter with God that God so graciously offers us. We are bereft without that encounter and our lives – no matter the accomplishments or titles or accumulation of stuff, are achingly less than what they can be / should be.
Elizabeth and Mary are two rather unnoticeable figures of their day. How comforting that God uses the familiar, the ordinary, to be with us. It is at the heart of our sacramental life. It is the mystery Guerric of Igny writes about in his sermons, saying like Mary we are to be God bearers, poor insignificant unknowns that we may be.Read More »
Read More »
Each year on the Sunday closest to November 14th the Abbey celebrates its founding in 1949. The celebration begins in the cemetery remembering and honoring those monks on whose shoulders we stand to live monastic life today. In his homily during the liturgy to celebrate “Joy Never Ending” Abbot Stan recounted stories of the lives of the earliest founders of Mepkin. Abbot Stan’s remarks can be downloaded from this link.
1st rdg Dn 7:13-14 received dominion, glory and kingship
psalm 93 The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty
2nd rdg Rv 1:5-8 made us into a kingdom, priests for his Father
gospel Jn 18:33b-37 you say I am a king / kingdom not of this world came into this world to testify to the truth
Jesus tells us he has come into the world to testify to the truth. And so we explore what truth is being offered for us to learn in celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King through the readings selected for us by the church today. The end of the liturgical year is anticipated with readings that are of an apocalyptic character and since no one has yet experi-enced the end of time, the literary medium is poetic. The first and second readings we hear from Daniel and Revelation, are apocalyptic and therefore poetic. Our gospel account is of a more historical nature giving us the event and dialogue of Jesus being brought before Pontius Pilate. So as we reflect on Jesus as king and his kingdom, these readings are providing us with imagery, vocabulary and concepts that bear some examination. Since it is Jesus himself who responds to Pilate’s query “you say I am king.” We want to note that Jesus never calls himself a king. He will speak of his kingdom, but the socio-political baggage that the term ‘king’ carries seems to have brought Jesus not to have used this term in referring to himself. As regards his kingdom, our Lord, repeatedly says his kingdom is not of this world. And this needs to be the context in which we pray this beautiful last Sunday of the liturgical year.
Permit me to draw our attention to several phrases from the readings of this Sunday: “received dominion, glory and kingship” – “robed in majesty” – “made us into a kingdom” – “priests for his Father” – and you already have “you say I am a king” – “kingdom not of this world” – “came into this world to testify to the truth”.Read More »
1st rdg Jer 31:7-9 I am going to bring my people home / blind and lame
Psalm 126 The Lord has done great things for us – filled with joy
2nd rdg Heb 5:1-6 Christ was appointed high priest
gospel Mk 10: 46-52 cure of blind Bartimaeus / ‘let me see again’
Jesus’ action in behalf of the blind man Bartimaeus is a very clear demonstration of God’s love breaking into the difficulty of human life and bringing an individual to a better place. That the gospel clearly tells us that Bartimaeus’ faith is an essential part of his ‘cure’ is cause for us to relinquish the tendency to give God all the responsibility to resolve our dilemmas. What was Bartimaeus’ involvement in what is described in this gospel and where are we in the coming to wholeness and holiness our relationship with Jesus can bring?
There are several words beginning with the letter “c” we might give some consideration as we reflect on the passages the Church gives us for this Sunday: 1) the crowd, 2) the call, 3) the cloak, and 4) the cure and what it brings. As is often the case with Jesus’ itinerant ministry, the gospel speaks of a crowd, one of whom is a blind beggar sitting by the road. And we are given his name and his lineage. Is the crowd a devoted bevy of fans crushing in around Jesus as happens to sports figures or entertainment personalities today? In the account of Zacchaeus’ meeting Jesus in Luke’s gospel, Zacchaeus is part of a crowd of curiosity seekers. Let’s go see this Jesus who has a reputation as a speaker and miracle worker. Curiosity about Jesus does not mean a person wants a relationship with him; for some a little entertainment is enough. Can we see today’s gospel as an occasion for faith to be revealed in a significant number of people or perhaps in even one person? Let’s remember beggars did not usually receive a welcome or preferred treatment. The story draws us in.
As for the notion of call, we find Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus – ‘Son of David, have pityy on me, a sinner’. And we are told that Jesus calls Bartimaeus to get up and come to him. To cry out in need especially to God is appropriate and a deep part of the faith journey. It is the specific words Bartimaeus uses that take us deeper. Seventeen verses in the New Testament refer to Jesus as the ‘Son of David’. Not that he is born to David, but he is of the Davidic line, of the promise to God’s people. Yes we hear that Bartimaeus is Timaeus’ son, but the one Bartimaeus addresses with this very particular title is understood to be of the messianic line. To call Jesus ‘son of David’ is to identify oneself as believing in this coming to fulfillment of the messianic promise. It implies being able to see something not everyone (think Pharisees) could recognize even though they were living a life of faith. It ties us to the first reading in which Jeremiah speaks of God bringing his people home, the blind and the lame… This phrase known to us today as the Jesus prayer acknowledges both something about Jesus and something about the one who is praying it. And then Jesus calls Bartimaeus to him, yes to approach him in needfulness, but more calling him into a relationship of substance that will forever change Baritmaeus’ life. Not a summons, this is an invitation to come closer, not only physically / spatially but personally – spiritually. And in baptism, has not each of us been called by name to a deeper relationship with God?Read More »
1st rdg Is 50:5-9 I gave my back to those who struck me
Psalm 116 I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of …
2nd rdg Jas 2:14-18 faith without works is dead
Gospel Mk 8:27-35 son of man must undergo great suffering
The incongruity of the last line of the gospel rings in our ears: “If you wish to save your life you will lose it and those who lose their life, save it.” In a culture that sees things that are difficult, that involve suffering or which inconvenience us as to be avoided, Jesus’ words are awkward at best. We are very mindful that these words follow an exchange with Peter that leads Jesus to say we must take up our cross and follow him.
The life of a believer contradicts an attitude popular in our culture that seems to say if I love God I will have an easy or at the least a comfortable life. It’s this sticky business of the cross, not the cross for Jesus, but the cross for us. I have a dear friend who tells me that the cross is becoming whom we are meant to be for God. Such thinking means the cross is unavoidable for any of us. And I do believe that rather than being imposed on us the cross must be embraced. So often our monastic forebears invite us to reflect not on Jesus being crucified – something done to him, but rather Jesus embracing or ascending the cross. Perhaps that’s why we have this succession of lines in the gospel today. We begin with Jesus not asserting his identity – Look at me! – I’m God. Rather Jesus asks who do they say that I am, moving ultimately to who do you say that I am. Basically he asks what do you see or experience in knowing me, in observing how I live, in the manner in which I interact with others. The next segment of the gospel is an exhortation to deny oneself and take up (embrace) the cross. And the final of the three segments of this morning’s gospel is the save and lose interplay I mentioned above. It is a progressive movement: Jesus prepares them for his own death, Jesus exhorts them to deny themselves and take up the cross, and Jesus invites them to live the reality of a life poured out – our salvation.Read More »