Sunday’s Cuts

“What are you looking for?”  Sunday’s Gospel, John1: 35-42 has been with me all this week.

Scripture: John 1:35-42

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”  39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.  40 One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  41 He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).  42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).

As I was driving home, I couldn’t even remember the question.  But funny, as I was sitting and listening to the homily, I was thinking to myself, “Make certain that you remember this question!  This is something that you really want to think about!”  Looking up the reference, I found, “What do you seek?”.  I’ve carried this question with me since and I’m experiencing a real awakening to what motivates me in my life.

Whoosh!  Here we are!  It’s February 27!  I think it was my original intent to write a brief reflection each day when I came home from Sunday Mass!  And now…since John…a whole number of Sundays has whooshed by and here I am, having given nothing to this page!  There you go!  Another reflection of how we can fill our lives with intentions, without addressing that wee knot at our core that needs tending.  We forget to love ourselves into life through the SPIRIT.  So…what to do then?  Give up on the intention or pick up and try again?  I’m choosing to do try again.

Let it be said, to begin, that the journey through Mark in ordinary time, was a blessing!  There wasn’t a reading that did not speak to my heart, particularly that of the last Sunday in ordinary time!  Mark 2: 1-12

Mark 2: 1 – 12

1 And when he returned to Caper’na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home.
2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them.
3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.
5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”
6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,
7 “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts?
9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Rise, take up your pallet and walk’?
10 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic —
11 “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.”
12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

It was in 2006, during my Lenten journey, that I took on the painting of a single chapel wall and during that process, experienced a conversion of my heart AND my art.  No longer did I take an interest in commercial painting…but only a hunger to paint for God.  A cop out?  Hmmm…I’ve deliberated over that for a long time since.  Was I just fearful or stressed about giving my time to painting for galleries exclusively?  Was there a way that I could do both and honour my Lord?  Of course there was a way.  It’s just that, for now, this is my journey.  And, I am grateful every day for the humility I learn in this process.  But, back to the last Gospel of ordinary time!

The message that I received through those 40 days/nights of sanding and painting was inspired by this very reading.  In its most pared-down version, we hear the invitation, through the sanctifying grace of our Lord, to pick up our mats and be healed.  That is how much faith we can have.  That is how REAL God is in the divine PRESENCE of his beautiful offering at the Holy altar.  Jesus is real!  So many have a difficult time grasping that truth in such a busying world.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Reading:
Second Reading:
Genesis 9:8-15
Psalm 25:4-9
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15

Frequent and daily Communion is greatly desired by our Lord and the Church. — Pope St. Pius X

The focus for me, as I listened to the Word, was on the first reading.  The focus of the homily, understandably, was on the Gospel.  I am including, here, a link to the prayerful reflections of the Gardiner Street Parish because these are inspiring me as well.  At St. Albert the Great, this week, the homily focused on the Divine mystery (the SECRET) of the Eucharist and the fact that ‘the elect’ may be more drawn to partake in and appreciate the beautiful PRESENCE than those of us who have been rooted in the faith for many generations.  Sometimes we lose touch with the mystery and wonder of what is ours whenever we call upon the Lord, whenever we show up.  These are thoughts to take into ones heart and to be mulled over.  Ours is not a God who should be taken for granted.  I was truly blessed on Sunday, with the sending and receiving of our catecumans and candidates at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

What I was really thinking about though, during the liturgy of the word, was the first reading, Genesis 9: 8-15.

This reading continues to speak to the art work that I am forecasting, a Covenant Series.  I continue to be affirmed through this exploration of humanity’s responsibility to the Covenant set out at the Ark.  I felt encouraged after opening  my heart to today’s reading.

Genesis 9: 8 – 15

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,
9 “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you,
10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.
11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
13 I set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,
15 I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.


March 3, 2012 2nd Sunday of Lent

First Reading:
Second Reading:
Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15-19
Romans 8:31-34
Mark 9:2-10

Irrational feeding darkens the soul and makes it unfit for spiritual experiences. — St. Thomas Aquinas

Strangely enough, I have been thinking about nothing else but my son this past week.  Since the loss of Chris Reimer, I have been feeling an urgency about coming to know my son…to really have the heart to listen and to be granted the proper words, in order to build on our relationship.  So, what themes should come up in today’s Holy Offering, of course such as these!

Genesis 22: 1 – 2, 9 – 13, 15 – 18

1 After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.”
2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori’ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
10 Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.”
12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven,
16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son,
17 I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies,
18 and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”

The Gardiner Street Church focuses on the Transfiguration that is beautifully described in today’s Gospel and causes us to remember the TRUE ‘colours’ of our faith.  But it’s interesting, isn’t it, that some days the Gospel is meant to reach out and speak to us in a very personal way.  Both the readings from Genesis and Romans have calmed a storm for me and I am grateful.


Sunday, March 18, 2012
Fourth Sunday of Lent: Christian Initiation, Second Scrutiny.

First Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Second Reading:
 Ephesians 5:8-13
Gospel: John 9:1-41

If by a diligent life of virtue, you wash away the film of dirt that covers your heart, then the divine beauty will shine forth in you.

— St. Gregory of Nyssa

Given that this was the Second Scrutiny Sunday for the RCIA Catecumen and Elect, I have to say that I have been truly amazed by the process and the reception at these ‘moments’ in their faith development.  It has been moving to see the open hearts that live now, in anticipation of our Lord.  I am so grateful to be a part of this journey and to be accompanying someone who has his heart set on our Father.

In regards to the readings, Samuel gave me yet another reminder of my process of painting in the Chapel in 2006.  I remember the day that I included the horn in the mural, thinking of the holy oils and the very short time until Holy Week.  The story of the blindman is simply a miracle and there isn’t a time that I am not blessed by this Gospel reading from John.

Sunday, March 25, 2012
Third Scrutiny: Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Reading I
Ez 37:12-14

Thus says the LORD GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

John 11:1-44

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
hen Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Father Kevin Tumback used the story of Lazarus as a metaphor for how we might eventually view the death of our loved ones.  This was a tough one.  I suppose it IS demonstrative of our faith in Our Lord and his promise of Salvation, if we face death with such courage of conviction that ‘celebrate’ the fact that our loved one is now with God, dancing.  However, from my perspective, grief and pain of loss is really what we have for a time, isn’t it?  Intellectually, we know the truth about our connection with the Father…however, in the midst of our emotions and our loss, it is certainly understandable that it might take some time before we can really accept comforting thoughts such as, “Your child/parent/friend is in a better place.” or “You know that your loved one is with God.”  In fact, some of these intended comforts have the opposite result if we speak them too soon.

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