Tag Archives: resurrection

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading —   2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14

This book tells of the gruesome atrocities endured by the Jews under the Greek leader, Antiochus Epiphanes about 150 BC.  He is noted for the “abomination of desolation” in which he had pigs sacrificed in the Temple’s Holy of Holies to the Greek god, Zeus. The purpose of this book is to edify its readers in their Jewish faith, recalling for them the beautiful examples given by those who defended the cause of God. It places great hope in the rewards that await those who suffer for their faith.  The death of martyrs can bring salvation to others. It is believed that it is out of such suffering that a firm belief in resurrection began to grow in the Jewish faith. (Celebration, Nov.2001)

The name Maccabees means “designated by God,” an apt title for one who would so courageously lead the people in their fight for independence  (W&W, Birmingham, p. 526).  What do you think of someone showing no fear in the face of adversity because of their belief in resurrection?

2nd Reading — 2 Thessalonians 2: 16 – 3: 5

There is something deeply moving in the thought of this giant among men asking for the prayers of the Thessalonians who so well recognized their own weakness (like Pope Francis?).  It is very difficult to dislike a man who asks you to pray for him!  In the last verse of this passage we see what we might call the inward and outward characteristics of the Christian.  The inward characteristic is the awareness of the love of God, the deep awareness that we cannot drift beyond his care, the sense that the everlasting arms are underneath us.  The outward characteristic is the endurance which Christ can give.  We live in a time that more and more people have the feeling that they cannot cope with life.  With the love of God in his heart and the strength of Christ in his life a man can face anything (Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series, p. 216).  How does the Lord direct your heart?

Gospel Reading —  Luke 20: 27-38

Jesus is finally in Jerusalem:

in Luke 19: 29+, he entered the city on a donkey.

In verses 41+, he weeps over Jerusalem

because they will not recognize the “things that make for peace.”

He enters the Temple and ‘cleanses’ it,

calling it a House of Prayer not a den of thieves.

Needless to say, the chief priests and leaders of the people were plotting to ‘trap’ him . . .  After much controversy, we then have this reading.

THE SADDUCEES, mostly priests, were the wealthy aristocracy of the day.  They were the privileged presiders of temple ritual and sacrifices.  They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (a much debated subject at Jesus’ time).  The Pharisees, mostly laymen, on the other hand, did believe in resurrection. The Sadducees, as an elite class, also enjoyed a very cooperative and profitable relationship with Rome.

Jesus was part of a culture that was prone to conflict because of its emphasis on honor.  To gain and augment personal honor, one must challenge another in hope that the challenged person will look weak. Jesus may not have started the argument, but he is not against putting the opponents on the defensive and letting them look ‘stupid’ in comparison with his own clear thinking. One can see how such confrontation eventually could lead to their wanting to get rid of him. Yet, Jesus speaks what he knows to be true, not letting fear rule him.(The Cultural World of Jesus, John Pilch, 161-163)

To translate marriage in the present life into resurrection terms is impossible.  The transformation of the resurrected body from matter to spirit is so total that earthly considerations no longer have meaning. It is hard for us to grasp because we aren’t there yet.  We like to know, but it is unknowable.  All we do know is it is vastly superior to the present life, and it is vastly different.  The central joy of heaven is life in and with God with no fear of loss.  We must pray, in the spirit of St. Paul, to be strengthened and with the firm conviction that the God who is faithful will bring us home  (Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p. 724).

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3rd Sunday of Easter, cycle B

Jesus hands feet

1st Reading: Acts of the Apostles 3: 13-19

Jesus is called the “author of life” – what does that mean for you?  Mary Birmingham points out that this term is a very ancient Christian term.  The Greek word for ‘author’ means “captain” or “leader.”  Jesus is the new leader, the new captain of life’s vessel, who leads the people, just like Moses, out of bondage into a new promised land – Jesus is the fulfillment of the liberation foreshadowed at the Exodus event – Jesus is the fulfillment of all that God has ever planned for humankind. (W&W Wrkbk Yr B, 363-364)

St. John of the Cross said, “The soul lives where it loves.”  Think about that.  Jesus lived here among us because of love.  And that is why he died too.  Are we supposed to feel this tremendous guilt that Jesus had to do this for us?  I don’t know if God wants us to feel that way.  Jesus only reaches out in love, only wants to repent and turn to him.  He doesn’t want us wallowing in our guilt and self-loathing.  He wants us to embrace the love.  Let our souls live in that love.  How can we be different living that way?

2nd Reading: 1 John 2: 1-5

What does it mean to you to call Jesus an “Advocate” – a parakletos ?  An advocate is someone who pleads our case before a court of law – one who intercedes for us. It is someone whom we call to be by our side as our helper and counselor. It is someone who “lends his presence to his friends.” Jesus is this kind of friend. (Wm Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude, 36-38)

Jesus is also called our ‘expiation’ for sin – here we must be careful of the meaning. In the Jewish sense, sacrifice was used to restore our relationship with God. It was God forgiving us and providing the means of restoring our relationship with God.  Scholars also point out that the word could be translated as ‘disinfection’: Jesus shows us what God is like and disinfects us from the taint of sin – from the darkness and bondage of sin.  Jesus is the reconciliation, the means, by which God reassures us of His love. And as this writer, John, sees it – this work of Jesus is carried out not just for us, but for the whole world.

The love of God is broader than the measures of our human mind. God’s salvation has wide enough arms for all. (Wm Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude, 39-40))

The Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48

From Living Liturgy, 2003, 120:

Jesus “was made known” in the breaking of the bread and in repentance and forgiveness. Forgiveness, then, is an encounter with the risen Christ . . . it is our witness to the resurrection: “I forgive you.” Our belief is not some elite intellectual exercise but an embodied faith expressed in actions. We need to walk and talk like a forgiven people. Repentance-and-forgiveness is not just for Lent; it is Easter-activity! Forgiveness is a virtue that enables us not to allow past hurts to determine our decisions and actions in the here and now. Forgiveness opens up the space for creating together with the one forgiven a new future . . . It allows for new life – calls for new life and new possibilities.

Think of all this and pray for God’s Spirit to enliven and guide us as we are sent out at the end of our Eucharist “to love and serve the Lord.”  (Birmingham, W&W Yr B, 365-373)

The gospels struggle with expressing the risen reality.  It was not just another phase in the history of Jesus of Nazareth.  In a real sense he was totally “other”, living now the indescribable life of God.  And yet he was the same person and in some ways objectively identifiable.  However, the resurrection was known principally by its fruits, the faith proclamation of unlettered fishermen.  It changed people’s lives and continues to do so.  To watch people move from a state of alienation to conversion and a new direction in life is the clearest proof of the risen Christ  (Faley, R.  Footprints on the Mountain, p, 309).

Palm Sunday, cycle A

Palm Sunday

The Gospel: Matthew 26: 14 – 27: 66

Thoughts on the Gospel at the Procession:

In Jesus’ day the Jewish people had hoped that the Messiah would come with military power and might – and that with that power he would free them. But Jesus came and opened a new way. Just as he rode to Jerusalem on a donkey, an ass, a pack animal, rather than arriving with armies and angels, so he opened a new path for the reign of God, the Kingdom of God. He preached about God who cared for the least, who sought the lost and the poor and counted the hairs of one’s head. This God reached out to the Gentiles, the enemies of the Jews and spoke of loving one’s enemies as if it were possible. His idea of the reign of God and how a Messiah might act was incomprehensible to many of the people. This was not the way a messiah ought to act. This could not be God or God’s servant.  (Celebration, April 13, 2002)

What does the word Passion mean for you?

A dictionary says that it means strong emotion and agitation, such as ardent love, eager desire, even rage. It also means intense suffering.  Jesus is the face of God:  “He is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15)  What do we learn of God in his passion?

Jesus does not want followers who seek after suffering; he does, however, want followers who seek after truth and love and are willing to suffer in order to live this truth and love in their real lives.

Thoughts from Prof. Dr. Joseph Ratzinger’s  (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) Theology of the Cross from his book: Einfuhrung in das Christentum (Introduction to Christianity):

In many devotional books we encounter the idea that Christian faith in the cross is belief in a God whose unforgiving justice demands a human sacrifice – the sacrifice of his own son. This somber and angry God contradicts the Good News of God’s love and makes it unbelievable. Many people picture things this way, but it is false. In the Bible, the cross is not part of a picture of violated rights; the cross is far more the expression of a life which is a ‘being for others.’

This is an appalling picture of God, as one who demanded the slaughter of his own son in order to assuage his anger. Such a concept of God has nothing to do with the New Testament. The New Testament does not say that human beings reconcile God; it says that God reconciles us.

The fact that we are saved ‘through his blood’ (Hebrew 9:12) does not mean that his death is an objective sacrifice . . . In world religions, the notion which dominates is that of the human being making restitution to God in order to win God‘s favor. But in the New Testament the picture is the exact opposite. It is not the human being who goes to God, to bring him a compensatory gift or sacrifice; rather, it is God who comes to human beings with a gift to give us. The cross is not the act of offering satisfaction to an angry God. Rather, it is the expression of the boundless love of God, who undergoes humiliation in order to save us.

Christian worship is not the act of giving something to God; rather, it is the act of allowing ourselves to receive God’s gift, and to let God do this for us.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian who died at the hands of the Nazis on April 8, 1945.   In his book The Cost of Discipleship, he talks about cheap grace and costly grace:

Cheap grace is when we look to ourselves for what we have in life.  The blessings we have are taken for granted.  We can do what we want without retribution.  Cheap grace places ourselves in the center.  It is easy.  There is no personal responsibility, unless it is to take credit for the good.  But it is empty.  No, grace was bought at a price in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 6:19-20).  There is more to life than living in cheap grace.

Jesus died on the cross to save us.  He was without sin, yet he died for all of our sins so that we would know eternal life.  That is costly grace.  Living in that grace understands that.  It is looking to God for what we have in life, knowing it is all from God.  God is the center.  It is being a disciple, wanting to do what is right because that is what Jesus did.  It is wanting to please God, knowing God’s grace is a free gift but having the desire anyway.  It is a fulfilled life.  It is, “…water on parched ground, comfort in tribulation, freedom from the bondage of a self-chosen way, and forgiveness of all sins,” (Bonhoeffer, p. 52).  Costly grace is living with the knowledge of what Jesus had to do to allow us the freedom of eternal life, and being grateful for it.

“Happy are they who, knowing that grace, can live in the world without being of it, who, by following Jesus Christ, as so assured of their heavenly citizenship that they are truly free to live their lives in this world, “(Bonhoeffer, p. 60).  There is a freedom in knowing you are living the way you were meant to live.  That you are answering a call, or at least attempting to do so.

Jürgen Moltmann, another Geman theologian, witnessed the Allied fire-bombing of Hamburg and was held as a prisoner of war by the British.  It was there that he developed his theology of the cross.  From Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God  (p. 61):

While his Son is dying on the cross, God the Father suffers too, but not in the same way.  The Father suffers the loss of his Son, experiencing infinite grief.  There is total separation between them; they are lost to each other.  At the same time, however, they have never been so close.  They are united in a deep community of will, each willing to do this for love of the world.  As a result, the Hoy Spirit who is love, the Sprit of their mutual love, flows out into the broken, sinful world.  Their Spirit justifies the godless, rescues the abandoned, befriends the lonely, fills the forsaken with love, brings the dead alive, and guarantees that no one will ever again die godforsaken because Christ is already there in the depths of abandonment.

Here are at least two other lessons we can learn from the cross:

  1. The cross shows us just how cruel, and destructive evil actually is. Evil hates; evil killed the kindest, gentlest, most loving person who ever lived.  Evil tries to destroy all love, kindness, friendship, and truth.
  1. The cross also shows us the power of love, of good, of God.  No matter how powerful Evil can seem to be, it is false. God and his love are greater than ANY EVIL OR PAIN.  God can redeem (set free), save (bring to health).  God can recreate and give life if we trust him and live in relationship with him (faith).

(Thoughts taken from Jesus, The Carpenter’s Son, by Richard J. Reichert)

Caution concerning Matthew’s Gospel (and John’s also):

It is always important to understand that by the end of the 1st century  Christians were struggling to define themselves apart from their Jewish roots and to try to find their place in the larger Gentile world. In the process they began to realize they were not merely another Jewish sect. Antagonism grew on both sides.  In Matthew’s passion story we see an effort to blame ‘the Jews’ – really meaning the authorities for the most part – and to exonerate the Gentiles.  Be careful not to read into these statements more than what is thereAnti-Semitism is never right, nor is it what the inspired Word of God is trying to teach us. Power-hungry men, some Jewish and some Gentile, who wanted to play ‘god’ were responsible for Jesus’ suffering and death.  In a true sense, responsibility lies where it belongs, with evil and sin.   (Living Liturgy, Year A, 89 & Monika Hellwig, Jesus: The Compassion of God)

5th Sunday of Lent, cycle A: The Story of Lazarus

The Gospel — John 11: 1-45

The cast of characters…
Martha and Mary are the voices of all faith-filled people who have suffered loss:
“Where were you? If You had only been here . . .”
Lazarus– “the one whom Jesus loved” is a paradigm of every believer.
Just as Jesus calls to Lazarus to “Come out!” so, too, he calls to each of us to come out from whatever entombs us and allow ourselves to be ‘untied’
by his grace and live to ‘go free’.
The disciples are the ones who pretend to be brave and wise, but are often clueless.
Jesus cries and is perturbed, also. Why? No easy answer.
If Jesus reveals to us the invisible God, what does Jesus show us here about God? Where do you see yourself in the story?

From Mary Birmingham, Word and Worship (A), p.179:
This story is a prelude to the cross. It leads the way; it shows us the meaning of Jesus’ coming passion. Lazarus was raised from the dead for a brief respite; Jesus was raised forever. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we all share in the Lazarus sign. The raising of Lazarus prompts every believer to answer the ultimate question: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE?

What do you think of Thomas’ statement: “Let us go to die with him.” (verse 16) It is in John 20: 24-29 we also see Thomas after the Resurrection. From that story he gets the name, doubting Thomas. Aren’t we like Thomas, at times?!

Jesus waited. Scripture uses the word remained, which gives the waiting an intentionality. Lazarus was dead for 4, long days. All hope was lost. But everything is possible with God, right? As we heard in Paul’s letter to the Romans a couple weeks ago, “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts…” (5:5). It was for the glory of God. God’s time is not our time. What wonderful things may lie in wait for you if you hope in the glory of the Lord?

Martha is worried about the stench in the cave when Jesus approaches (as, of course, Martha would!). Jesus waves that off and focuses on why he is there, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” Jesus is not afraid to come to our stinky, dark places and breathe new life into us! And actually, Jesus does not go into the cave but calls Lazarus out. Jesus calls us OUT of ourselves. And he calls others in to help Lazarus with the bandages. We need the support of our community to jump in and be there with us. Jesus is in the midst of it all. Do you see yourself in this? Our church?

From Exploring the Sunday Readings, March 2002:
John 11: 1-45 – “This illness is not to end in death . . .”
Jesus said the illness would not end in death, but it did. Lazarus died. And so have our friends and loved ones over the years, some of them great believers in the promises of Jesus. We’ve all known people who’ve prayed and prayed that the cancer would go away, or the doctors would find a cure for their condition in time. Sometimes it doesn’t, or they don’t. And it hurts terribly, for the ones who have to let go of the life they know, the ones who have to say goodbye too soon.
Lazarus dies, and his family grieves. Even Jesus weeps at the loss. But then, Lazarus is called out of death to life! And now we hear what Jesus really said: not that Lazarus wouldn’t die, but that death would not be the end of him. Death wins the battle, but love wins the war. So we believe. So we profess.
Human suffering is a mystery we must live with and in – it is a part of everyone’s life eventually. As we head toward Holy Week, it is important to think about how as Christians we view this. What does the cross of Christ tells us about suffering? The cross does not really tell us the why of suffering, but it offers us instead the where of God’s sharing in it. When we suffer, God is in the midst of our suffering. Emmanuel, God-with-us, is also Christ on the cross, God-who-suffers-with-us.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are our guarantee that when we reach the limits of our mortality in failure, loss, and pain, we find ourselves on the surprising road to resurrection. (Today’s Parish, Lent 1996, p.22)

Scripture Commentary for 32nd Sunday Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading —   2 Maccabees 7: 1-2, 9-14

This book tells of the gruesome atrocities endured by the Jews under the Greek leader, Antiochus Epiphanes about 150 BC.  He is noted for the “abomination of desolation” in which he had pigs sacrificed in the Temple’s Holy of Holies to the Greek god, Zeus. The purpose of this book is to edify its readers in their Jewish faith, recalling for them the beautiful examples given by those who defended the cause of God. It places great hope in the rewards that await those who suffer for their faith.  The death of martyrs can bring salvation to others. It is believed that it is out of such suffering that a firm belief in resurrection began to grow in the Jewish faith. (Celebration, Nov.2001)

The name Maccabees means “designated by God,” an apt title for one who would so courageously lead the people in their fight for independence  (W&W, Birmingham, p. 526).  What do you think of someone showing no fear in the face of adversity because of their belief in resurrection?

2nd Reading — 2 Thessalonians 2: 16 – 3: 5

There is something deeply moving in the though of this giant among men asking for the prayers of the Thessalonians who so well recognized their own weakness (like Pope Francis?).  It is very difficult to dislike a man who asks you to pray for him!  In the last verse of this passage we see what we might call the inward and outward characteristics of the Christian.  The inward characteristic is the awareness of the love of God, the deep awareness that we cannot drift beyond his care, the sense that the everlasting arms are underneath us.  The outward characteristic is the endurance which Christ can give.  We live in a time that more and more people have the feeling that they cannot cope with life.  With the love of God in his heart and the strength of Christ in his life a man can face anything (Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series, p. 216).  How does the Lord direct your heart?

Gospel Reading —  Luke 20: 27-38

Jesus is finally in Jerusalem:

in Luke 19: 29+, he entered the city on a donkey.

In verses 41+, he weeps over Jerusalem

because they will not recognize the “things that make for peace.”

He enters the Temple and ‘cleanses’ it,

calling it a House of Prayer not a den of thieves.

Needless to say, the chief priests and leaders of the people were plotting to ‘trap’ him . . .  After much controversy, we then have this reading.

THE SADDUCEES, mostly priests, were the wealthy aristocracy of the day.  They were the privileged presiders of temple ritual and sacrifices.  They did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (a much debated subject at Jesus’ time).  The Pharisees, mostly laymen, on the other hand, did believe in resurrection. The Sadducees, as an elite class, also enjoyed a very cooperative and profitable relationship with Rome.

Jesus was part of a culture that was prone to conflict because of its emphasis on honor.  To gain and augment personal honor, one must challenge another in hope that the challenged person will look weak. Jesus may not have started the argument, but he is not against putting the opponents on the defensive and letting them look ‘stupid’ in comparison with his own clear thinking. One can see how such confrontation eventually could lead to their wanting to get rid of him. Yet, Jesus speaks what he knows to be true, not letting fear rule him.(The Cultural World of Jesus, John Pilch, 161-163).

To translate marriage in the present life into resurrection terms is impossible.  The transformation of the resurrected body from matter to spirit is so total that earthly considerations no longer have meaning. It is hard for us to grasp because we aren’t there yet.  We like to know, but it is unknowable.  All we do know is it is vastly superior to the present life, and it is vastly different.  The central joy of heaven is life in and with God with no fear of loss.  We must pray, in the spirit of St. Paul, to be strengthened and with the firm conviction that the God who is faithful will bring us home  (Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, p. 724).