Thoughtful Reflections on Religious Experience
« Previous Entries Next Page »
   
The Gathering of Israel by KathyPozos on Friday 11 April 2014 9:45 pm PDT

 

Ezekiel

Ezekiel

The first reading of the Mass for Saturday of the fifth week of Lent, the day before Holy Week begins, is from the book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, verses 21-28. It begins:

Thus says the Lord God: I will take the children of Israel from among the nations to which they have come, and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land.

In this prophecy, Ezekiel goes on to proclaim that the kingdoms of Israel will be reunited, the people will return to true worship of their God, David will be prince over them, and the Lord will again place His dwelling among them. By this all nations will know that it is the Lord who makes Israel holy.

Who was Ezekiel?

Ezekiel was born in Israel, but was taken to Babylon at age 25 after the conquest of Jerusalem, one of 3,000 exiled members of the upper class. He received his call to prophecy in Babylon when he was around 30 years old and in his prophecies predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. Once the city and temple had been destroyed, crushing the hopes of the exiles, Ezekiel’s prophecies turned from reproach for failure to obey the Lord to promises of the Lord’s renewal of Jerusalem and the return of the people to their homeland.

The conquest of Babylon by Persia resulted in the return of the exiles to their land, the reconstruction of the temple, and the renewal of temple-based worship. The Lord’s promise made through Ezekiel was carried out, though Ezekiel himself never returned to his homeland.

A promise kept — End of story?

The Lord’s promise to gather the children of Israel from among the nations and bring them back to their land, where they would be one nation with David as their prince and the Lord’s sanctuary among them includes a double layer of promise. The first and most obvious layer was fulfilled with the return of the exiles and their descendents to Jerusalem. Jerusalem and the temple stood as the center of Jewish life until the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 AD.

With the destruction of Jerusalem and the forced relocation of the people from their homeland out into other nations, it seems that the promise was not to be permanent. God and his sanctuary no longer lived among the people on their own land. This has led some to argue that the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of their ancestors is a requirement for the ultimate fulfillment of salvation history, something that must happen before Jesus can come in his final glory and the physical world can end with the advent of the Heavenly Kingdom.

Another approach would be to consider another, deeper layer in the prophecy, one not even suspected by Ezekiel. The second layer of prophecy points us to the mission of Jesus. Jesus saw his mission as the gathering of Israel for the beginning of God’s final kingdom. He started from the bottom up, working with ordinary people in Galilee, teaching the good news of his Father’s great love and mercy. He knew, however, that eventually he would need to bring that same message to the religious and political leaders of his time. That led him to Jerusalem and the events of Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

Why would this reading be placed just before Holy Week?

This reading, coming just before the narration of the events of Jesus’ last week of life, reminds us that he came to gather all of us as well, children of Israel through adoption by God, and bring us back to God’s land, united into one people, with himself as our King, and with God’s dwelling-place deep within our hearts.

As we enter into Holy Week, let us rejoice that God is with us, still leading his children from exile and separation into one kingdom, with the Son of David as our saviour. May our hearts always be open to welcome his presence within.

 

 

“No Prophet Arises From Galilee” by KathyPozos on Saturday 5 April 2014 4:04 pm PDT

 

No Prophets

“No prophet arises from Galilee.” This statement from St. John’s Gospel (Jn 7:53) reflects an attitude that is all too common even today. It arose in the context of the growing controversy over the teaching and ministry of Jesus. Some were saying he might be the long-awaited Christ. Others remembered that the Christ was to be of the family of David and so should come from Bethlehem. Even among the religious leaders, there were differences of opinion about Jesus and whether he could possibly be the One. Finally the matter was closed with the observation that all of the predictions of his coming said that the Prophet was not to come from Galilee.

The finality of this statement struck me today as I listened to the Gospel. In the context of their traditions and their centuries of reflecting on those traditions and prophecies, the Jewish people and their religious leaders had developed a very specific expectation of how God would fulfill the promises made through Abraham and the prophets. The Messiah was to come from the line of David. David’s city was Bethlehem. No one raised and educated in the Galilee could possibly be the Christ.

Yet Jesus was from Nazareth, a small Galilean town. And he came teaching with authority. He didn’t say, “Scripture says …” and simply quote the Law or the prophets. He said, “You have heard it said … but I say …” He taught with authority and what he taught did not necessarily conform to the established understandings of the Law. Sometimes his teachings clarified that the Law is a guideline but that respect and care for humans and their needs comes before literal obedience to a law. Sometimes his teachings went beyond the demands of the Law and called for a much higher level of love, mercy and care that are more like the way God deals with us. Sometimes he reminded his listeners that not the smallest aspect of the Law was to be ignored, but rather that he had come to fulfill the Law.

Who Jesus was and is, the source of his authority, his mission as savior, God’s vindication of his teachings and life in the Resurrection, and how we are to carry on that mission today are all important things to consider. But those concerns were not what struck me. The question that struck me today is, How often do I/we make judgements about people and what their role in life could possibly be? When we assume that a person who comes from an economically poor area cannot speak words of truth to us, then maybe we are missing Christ speaking to us. When we decide that a family member or friend has always acted in a particular way and will never do otherwise, what kind of chains are we putting on the person? How are we trying to limit what God is doing in a brother or to trying to do through a sister to reach us?

Incarnation includes the fullness of humanity

With the Incarnation, God became fully human. Jesus is fully divine and fully human. In his humanity, he is the most perfect human who ever lived. His divinity supported his humanity. It did not in any way blot out or diminish his humanity. But that humanity is one he also shares with each of us. Being human is not a bad thing. Humans have amazing potential to become ever more perfectly human, just as Jesus was human. God wants to bring us as humans to a closer relationship and intimacy within God’s own life as Trinity. When we put up a hand to dismiss someone or stop someone from following the divine call to become ever-more immersed into the Trinity and the out-flowing of love that such immersion brings to the world, we may be putting up a hand to try to stop God’s action in our lives and our world. What a tragedy that would be!

In the remaining couple of weeks before Easter, let us pray that we will not join those honest men of so long ago in trying to stop or limit God’s initiatives because they don’t fit the model we envision of how and through whom God will work today. Let us take great care not to declare, “No prophet (teacher, mystic, messenger. leader) arises from …”

Candlemas: Light Candles to Celebrate the Light of the World by KathyPozos on Sunday 2 February 2014 7:48 pm PDT

 

candle

On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas, we remember that Joseph and Mary took their firstborn son to the temple to present him to God, according to the traditions of their faith. An old man and an old woman met them at the temple. Each recognized the baby (only forty days old) as the One who had been promised from of old.

The man, Simeon, who had come “in the Spirit” to the temple, took Jesus in his arms and gave thanks to God, saying, “Now Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The old woman, Anna, was a prophetess who lived in the temple. Her words are not recorded, only that she gave thanks to God and spoke to all she met of the child she had seen.

In this feast we see a continuation of a theme begun in Advent and celebrated through the Christmas season. “A light shines in the darkness.” (Jn 1:5) “A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Is 9:1) “Rise up, Jerusalem, and shine forth” (Is 60:1) “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands.” (Ps 110:1b) “We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Mt 2:2) “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:17) We hear these strains again and again in the first months of our liturgical year, calling to us to listen and understand what has come to pass.

The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and our hearts to see the coming of the Promised One among us, just as was the case with Simeon, Anna, the Magi, and John the Baptist. When our eyes have been opened, we see the light shining through and overcoming the darkness. It is a light for all peoples; no more “us vs. them”, no more exclusion of anyone simply because he or she is different or a stranger. The Spirit fills Jesus and leads him into his public life. The Spirit fills Simeon and leads him to the temple. The Spirit leads the Magi to notice the star and set out on a journey to find the child it heralds. The same Spirit calls us too. We are to be lights for our world. We receive a candle at our Baptism and we are told to keep it shining brightly until the day the Lord comes for us.

And so we take candles and light them again, as we celebrate the coming of the Light of the World and the presence of the Spirit among us, helping us to recognize His coming.

O Emmanuel – Come and Save Us by RandyPozos on Monday 23 December 2013 12:50 am PDT

December 23 — O Emmanuel

“Our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.”

Where are you?
Can’t you come any faster?
Do you not see the innocent slaughtered?
Do you not see the hungry starved?

When will you come O God With Us?
Where will your forces land?
Where will you hold the war crimes trials?
When will you take the greedy who took our food and hope?

O God of Justice
When will we get our justice?
Surely you will come as our Warrior
And make them pay.

How can a child give us
Our revenge?
How can a maiden
Shake off our oppressors?

What good is it
To share our lives and our suffering?
Our drive-by crimes of casual slaughter
Our hopes dashed by greed and addiction

O Come God With Us
And soften our hearts
To know you have chosen to be one of us
To know our victory is in compassion

O Child of Grace and Comfort
O Child of Pain and Division
Show us the Star that leads beyond Calvary
and Lead us into peace.

 

O Rex Gentium – King of All the Nations by RandyPozos on Sunday 22 December 2013 12:51 am PDT

December 22 — O Rex Gentium

“O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.”

Dust thou art — to the Stars you are called
Leave the dark of agony
The cold of loneliness
Go out to welcome your King

King of All Hearts
King of the World
Line the runways
Announce His coming on the loud speakers

You have only your chains to shed
Your shackles to break
By your word of forgiveness
By exchanging your heart for His

Death has no more claim
Open the gates to the Stars of Grace
Welcome in the joy and peace
Of mercy given, mercy received.

 

O Oriens — Splendor of Eternal Light — Dayspring by RandyPozos on Saturday 21 December 2013 12:10 am PDT

December 21 — O Oriens

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.”


 

The shortest day gives way
to the Unconquered Son
The darkness of wrong
Gives way to the Sun of Justice

The sun returns
A pale reflection of Eternal Light
On those in the darkness of
Addiction, greed, and fear

Darkness underneath the bright lights and
Colors of the Christmas tree
Shines in blurriness of the winter heart
Seated by the fire in 500 watts of dim.

In the bright Santa Cruz sun
Bouncing on the bright slate blue
Open our hearts to singing sails
Of salt breeze setting all of us captives free.

 

O Clavis David – Key of David – Key to the Gate of Heaven by RandyPozos on Friday 20 December 2013 1:05 am PDT

December 20 – O Clavis David

“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”

And lead us into Freedom
The promised land
Out of our darkness
Fear, anxiety, and certainty

Break down the prisons
of our making
Those with wall to wall carpets
Harboring unforgiven hurt

With swimming pools
and security cameras
with sweeping vistas
Fending off death with denial

O Sol Invictus, Unconquered Sun
Fade the street lamps
of our night
With your dawn O Risen Son.

 

O Radix Jesse – Flower of Jesse’s Stem – Not So Fast My Friend by RandyPozos on Thursday 19 December 2013 12:30 am PDT

December 19 – O Radix Jesse

“O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”

Logged clean, the chosen people swept away,
Isaiah announced that even the stumps would be blown away.
Yet from the root God would restore His people,
The chosen ones the Cedars of Lebanon

But that flower of Jesse, David’s line,
Was lifted high on a tree
With the mocking sign, King of the Jews,
Proved true on the third day.

Your Kingdom come, O victorious one.
But maybe you should tarry – be fashionably late.
Things are pretty well handled.
We have no kings anymore.

Have another drink, watch some TV,
It’s all good.
Why should I be saved from my comfort?
Why leave Egypt when I can starve here?

This saving thing and your coming
Mess up my schedule.
Gotta pick up the kids and feed them styrofoam.
A disciple’s cross is too hard a price to pay.
 

My Soul in Stillness Waits – Truly My Hope is in You by RandyPozos on Wednesday 18 December 2013 12:30 am PDT

December 18 – O Adonai

“O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”

Be careful what you pray for.
The Lord Adonai is not tame.
The Fire that burns but does not consume,
That utterly calm voice that strikes our guts,
The One who sends us to the captive and oppressed,
No More Nice God;
Take off your shoes, you are in the shadow of the Holy.
 

Will Stoller-Lee on History Channel’s Upcoming Series, The Bible | Moses and the Burning Bush from Fuller Seminary in Colorado on Vimeo.

 
The following Burning Bush segment from the movie the Prince of Egypt is a beautiful and challenging theme. How will we recognize the coming of God if we have not been at the Burning Bush? We are the people we have been waiting for. We are Moses.

If you get an error message when playing this video, please refresh your browser.
 

The Week before Christmas – A Time for Stillness by RandyPozos on Tuesday 17 December 2013 11:09 am PDT

Please join us in the joyful anticipation of Christmas during this time of stillness and waiting that is Advent. We remind ourselves that the celebration of Christmas begins on the Eve of the Nativity, the 24th. There are two weeks to celebrate this great feast of God with us. Leave the hustle and bustle and share the gift of peace with your loved ones.

The O Antiphons which are sung before the Magnificat at Vespers set the tone for each day of this special week.

December 17 – O Sapientia

“O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”

 


 

What wisdom is this folly?

That God should come to share our death?

What Word of God, the Fullest Godself Expression on High

That governs all, would come for us in such lowliness?

O Wisdom? O Foolishness of Divine Love,

You seek us out, O Wisdom from on high.

Categories

  • Activities for Children (8)
  • Advent (18)
  • Angels (4)
  • asceticism (3)
  • Assumption (2)
  • atonement (21)
  • Bio-Ethics (3)
  • Candlemas (2)
  • Christian Unity/Ecumenism (3)
  • Christmas (1)
  • Christmas Day (1)
  • Communion of Saints (12)
  • Confirmation (4)
  • Contemplation (5)
  • Conversion (52)
  • Corporal Works of Mercy (4)
  • Corpus Christi (2)
  • Discernment (3)
  • Divine Mercy (2)
  • Doctor of the Church (28)
  • Easter (6)
  • Easter Season (5)
  • Edith Stein (2)
  • Eucharist (13)
  • Evangelization (8)
  • Ever Ancient / New (79)
  • everyday revelation (135)
  • Exaltation of the Holy Cross (1)
  • Ezekiel (1)
  • Faith and Public Policy (21)
  • Faith and Reason (72)
  • Faith in Action (151)
  • Fathers of the Church (11)
  • Feast of All Saints (1)
  • Feast of All Souls (1)
  • Feast of the Epiphany (2)
  • Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (1)
  • Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (2)
  • Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1)
  • Feast of the Visitation (1)
  • Feasts – liturgical (91)
  • Festive recipes (9)
  • Forgiveness (23)
  • Fruit of the Holy Spirit (2)
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit (6)
  • God (13)
  • God in All Things (70)
  • Gratitude (29)
  • Holocaust (3)
  • Holy Spirit (10)
  • Holy Spirit (4)
  • Ignatian Spirituality (20)
  • Incarnation (40)
  • Islamic/Christian Relations. (2)
  • It's to laugh (3)
  • Jewish / Christian Relations (3)
  • Korean Martyrs (1)
  • Lent (12)
  • Liturgical year (82)
  • Liturgy (1)
  • Liturgy of the Hours (7)
  • Lived Religion (22)
  • love (47)
  • Marriage (8)
  • Matrimony (1)
  • Meditation (4)
  • Ministry (9)
  • Miracles (15)
  • Missions (13)
  • Mother Teresa (6)
  • Mystics (25)
  • Nativity of John the Baptist (1)
  • Nativity of Mary (1)
  • O Antiphons (5)
  • Pagan/Christian Relations (3)
  • Peace (5)
  • Pentecost (3)
  • Pope Benedict XVI (2)
  • Pope John Paul II (3)
  • Pope John XXIII (2)
  • Pope Paul VI (1)
  • Prayer (22)
  • problem of evil (17)
  • Prophets (1)
  • Puzzles (4)
  • Reconciliation (4)
  • Religious Education (12)
  • Roman Missal (1)
  • Sacraments (13)
  • Saints (154)
  • Salvation (40)
  • Second Vatican Council (8)
  • Site logistics (7)
  • Social Justice (55)
  • Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (2)
  • spiritual growth (116)
  • spirituality (90)
  • Sports and Religion (1)
  • St. Augustine (1)
  • St. Faustina Kowalska (1)
  • St. Francis of Assisi (3)
  • St. Ignatius Loyola (18)
  • St. Jerome (1)
  • St. John Chrysostom (1)
  • St. Joseph of Cupertino (1)
  • St. Lioba (1)
  • St. Matthew (1)
  • St. Robert Bellarmine (3)
  • St. Therese of Lisieux (4)
  • St. Vincent De Paul (1)
  • St.Thomas of Villanova (1)
  • The Annunciation (1)
  • The Transfiguration (2)
  • Theodicy (7)
  • Thomas Merton (1)
  • Trinity (8)
  • Trinity (2)
  • Trinity Sunday (1)
  • Uncategorized (12)
  • Virgin Mary (19)
  • Vocation (4)
  • Wisdom (1)
  • Women (5)
  • Yom Kippur (1)
  • Young Adult Ministry (1)
  • Youth Ministry (6)
  • Monthly Archives

  • April 2014
  • February 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • Recent Posts

    Recent Comments

    RSS Subscription

    Subscribe by Email

    Enter your Email


    Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

    Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page

    Creative Commons LICENSE

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.