Tuesday, March 29, 2011
This post is related to the prior post of a simple prayer. I think there are many times when I need to remember to simplify things. I've scheduled too many things to do in the same day. I have clutter in the house and yard. I have been too busy and omitted something that was truly valuable or a priority. These happen too much and, although it is not really pointed out to me, I can recognize it myself.
So how does one start to simplify ones life especially when the obligations are pretty heavy? I am not really doing "what I want" from sunrise to dark. The answer is simple in itself: prioritize. I have to write down whatever optional reading, meetings, phone calls, or outings that I could do in a day. I have to select them with the greatest care. I have to use a standard that is holy, grown up, and powerful. Holiness is a theme in a book I am trying to finish, and soon will write the book review.
My prayer for greater stamina and needed changes in my life has been answered. The answer has been both a blessing and a great obligation. It is something that I have anticipated and the purpose of this blog is largely to help focus my attention to these tasks. I think I'll keep it as simple and straightforward as I can.
Dear Father in heaven, I thank you for the many blessings that you have bestowed upon me, my family, and the many people I am fortunate to have in my life. I honor your abundant love and protection which are your gifts that have truly given the greatest witness of your presence. Let me begin to shine forth more generously so that I might feed my brothers and sisters when they are particularly in need. Amen.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
When I got to church today I noticed that I was thirsty. Usually I do drink several glasses of water before going to church. I don't want to get the syndrome of fainting at mass, due to rushing to church without having anything to eat or drink, despite my adherence to the 1 hour rule about not eating 1 hour before Mass. The readings did reveal a tie in to this. The first reading in Mass today was the story of Moses providing water to the Israelites by striking his staff against a stone. They had become thirsty, probably also dehydrated; there was insufficient water for them up to that time. The third reading was the story of Jesus and the Samaritan at the well.
In my daily activities at work I often counsel my clients to drink more water, because the thirst is an unreliable measure of how much fluid we need to take in each day. The average person may only drink 3 or 4 glasses of liquid per day. This can be reflected in blood tests that show elevations in nitrogen waste products that otherwise should be flushed from the system.
The first reading has a very straightforward message, that God will provide for us our basic needs if we remain faithful to him. I particularly was intrigued by the third reading. I vaguely remember this reading from prior study or Mass attendance. The conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman would be a good subject for finer analysis and was mysterious and powerful. The desciples came into the story at one point, and the masses of Samaritans as well. Knowledge of the customs of the time would be helpful for interpretation as well (i.e., the propriety of a Jewish man talking to women, especially Samaritan / gentile women).
After further study / research, using "The Voice" (Crivoice.org) as a source, I discovered that this passage had several unique features. First, Jesus was indeed going outside of usual decorum when he spoke to the non-Jewish woman, in public. Also, she was the first person to whom Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah. The woman was chosen because she was an instrument of evangelism, who could influence many others and bring them to the Messiah. I think that this reading is one that has more significance than a reading in Mass would suggest. Independent reading and study of the Mass readings can produce much greater insight, it seems.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven
1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
When I write an essay for my blog, I try to think of a profound statement and this is the passage that came to mind, one of the few that I have recently referenced. I had recently been a participant in a medical internet forum (for doctors). Somehow, the topic of the day was faith (instead of TB, or AIDS or some similar malady) and the originator of the post had asked, "how can I develop a sense of religious faith, something that I have always envied in others, but never had?" A sort of anxious and panic stricken state of mind ensued as I tried to come up with an internet response post. I could not represent myself as having a treasure chest full of faith myself, although I admire the possibility of this. Finally I thought of this passage, and found the chapter and verse using a search engine. I like the irony of what Christ said in this passage. It is a relief to know that simple prayer, simple faith and not the conquest of the intellect will prevail in this matter.
Still, it is true that my Catholic faith provides me with multiple opportunities to learn more and use my God given thinking abilities. by simply sitting and reading I can benefit from and bounce ideas off of others who have traveled the journey ahead of me. I am humbled by the potential of this exercise and I hope motivated by the challenge.
My prayer, created this day:
Dear Father in Heaven, we gather in your name for your praise, to give thanks for your many blessings, and to inspire each other to fulfill your many commandments in our daily lives. I am thankful for this medium to communicate with others, at this time and in future moments, when your children are in pain, when they are at peace, in communion with you, or in a state of alienation. Let me be open to the needs of others, and share with them the love that you have shown to me. I ask this in your name, Amen.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
What did Elija and Moses say to Jesus at the time of the transfiguration?
I wondered this today when I heard the mass reading regarding the transfiguration. I was deliberately trying to put more thought into the readings for today and this issue stood out for some reason. Matthew depicted the prophets in conversation with Jesus who was transfigured. I honestly cannot give an intelligent answer but did find some interesting facts in my reading and research on the net. First, that Moses represented the Hebrew law at this supernatural event. The 10 commandments, and all Hebrew laws that were later derived from this and Jewish traditions, are represented by the vision of Moses.
One source seemed to indicate that Elijah represented prophets who had come before Christ himself. This might imply that Elijah's presence served the purpose of somehow balancing and complementing Moses'. I would feel very pleased if I had the theological background to expound on this further.
I did come upon, however, a very good reference that was copywrite 1999, by Robert I. Bradshaw in England. It is an excellent essay on Elijah. In this essay was a type of bible concordance regarding New Testament references to Elijah. This lead me to look up the corresponding reference in Luke chapter 9 verse 30 (Luke was read in Mass in 2010, as I recall; today's Mass reading included the verse from Matthew chapter 17) which depicts the Transfiguration. This actually answered my question, and states that the prophets and Jesus were talking about his departure, i.e. his passion and death. Of all the things that I had thought they might have discussed, I did not consider this. They were discussing a future event. That would fit well, with the fact that Moses and Elijah were prophets.
On a final note for this essay, it is a misconception apparently that I had that a prophet is defined as one who has visions of future events. I stand corrected, (via Answers.com) and a prophet is actually one who speaks for God or through whom God speaks. Although Luke did state generally what Moses, Elijah and Jesus were saying, no one knows exactly what they said or needed to discuss. These are all things outside our usual experience, and my point in bringing this up is to stimulate thought along spiritual lines. I have not tried to judge the account of the transfiguration as to whether we are commanded to take it literally or not. Interestingly, our Pastor's homily today did seem to touch on this point (in a somewhat oblique manner). Such is the nature of our journeys in spirituality and faith.