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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

A Moment

It’s been two months since our trip to Portland and the wedding. I wrote description to my friend after we got back:

I had a moment one day when we were walking downtown – all the kids were quite a ways ahead and I was hanging back with Julie (my sister-in-law) who couldn’t keep up. As I watched the kids ahead, I had an overwhelming feeling of being blessed – like a pitcher of water being poured over my head filled with blessings, overflowing.

Suddenly, like a switch, as the kids got further ahead of us and further away, I felt overwhelming sorrow at my loss of them. It’s a little hard to explain but God has gently been removing them from my life for quite a few years now and I’ve learned to surrender them to Him.

But in that moment, I realized He’s not done yet and I have to let go even more. It makes me so sad but Jesus, I trust in You.

I’m still pondering that experience and what it might mean. I don’t suppose I’ll really know until everything unfolds in due time.

But Jesus, I do trust in You. Lord, help my unbelief.

 

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I love the story of Jesus in the boat. He is sleeping on a cushion when a storm so frightens the disciples that they wake Him in fear for their lives. His words, “Peace, be still” silence the raging storm.

It is a story of His power and command even over nature’s terrifying violence. I love it so much that I have a print depicting the event hanging in my home.

Peace Be Still by Stephen Gjertson

Peace Be Still by Stephen Gjertson

Today I was blessed with a new look at that scene and how it applies to our lives today. Many saints have written about their struggles with a “dark night” in their lives when God seemed very distant from them; when prayer seemed dry and the human feelings of being close to God evaporated. I have gone through such a time and it is very painful; it’s a struggle to continue crying out to Him, wondering if He’s turned His face away or if you’ve done something wrong.

Since that time in my life I’ve read more about the dark night and have come to understand that it is a time of testing, of teaching one to walk by faith and not by feelings.

This morning I read a passage by St. Therese of Lisieux during her dark night. She wrote:

“[The retreat] was far from bringing me any consolations since the most absolute aridity and almost total abandonment were my lot. Jesus was sleeping as usual in my little boat; ah! I see very well how rarely souls allow Him to sleep peacefully within them … He will undoubtedly awaken before my great eternal retreat … “

That just made me smile, seeing how she connected the passage in Mark with the dark night.

There are times in our lives when Jesus is sleeping in our little boat, or appears to be. But He most certainly is not uncaring. Have faith; in an instant He can calm the most violent storm.

“A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
(Mark 4:37-40)

May I always allow the Master to sleep peacefully within.

 

 

 

 

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At Palm Sunday liturgy last night, the Passion of Christ was read.  I listened and as I heard this, it gave me pause:

“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;
weep instead for yourselves and for your children
for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,
‘Blessed are the barren,
the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed.’
At that time people will say to the mountains,
‘Fall upon us!’
and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’”
(Luke 23:28-30)

I ponder that.

I know scholars agree that Jesus was talking about the upcoming fall of Jerusalem and the terrible suffering that was coming upon her people. And perhaps in a larger sense, it describes all calamities where people watch their loved ones suffer terribly.

But last night, I “heard” it in a different way, a different layer.

Today, we hear people calling abortion “sacred,” “a blessing.” Today, the call to make assisted suicide and euthanasia legal is gaining voices.

Are they not saying “blessed are the … wombs that never bore?” Are they not calling to the mountains to “fall on us! cover us!”

Jesus tells us to weep over this.

And indeed, I do.

 

 

 

 

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Throughout the Christmas season there is a focus on giving … we search and shop and purchase with great care and thoughtfulness; stories like A Christmas Carol tell us that when we’re stingy we’re bad, when we give we are good; we hear “it is better to give than to receive.”

None of that is bad, nor particularly wrong. Giving is a good thing! Sharing our bounty, being generous, thoughtfulness in how we give – these are all kindness and charity and I don’t know if the world can ever have too much of that.

However, if we are asking the question, “What’s it all about?” the answer is not giving, generosity, nor sharing.

What it’s all about – the point of the Christmas season, the point of Jesus’ birth and death and resurrection, the point of our earthly lives – is receiving.

It’s not about what we do … it’s about what He did.

Do we receive Him? Do we receive the child, the Messiah? Do we receive the gift of His sacrifice? Do we receive the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Comforter sent to us by Jesus after His ascension?  Do we seek Him, rush to Him, welcome Him, receive Him fully into our lives in an active and daily way?

Knowing about God and even believing He exists is not enough. When the Magi were in Jerusalem the Jewish priests were able to tell Herod where the Messiah would be born; we presume as priests they believed in God and gave their service to Him daily in the temple. But they did not accompany the Magi to see the Messiah for whom they had long waited – they stayed in Jerusalem!

How about us? Do we believe? Do we try to do good and be good citizens and make this world a better place?

Or do we receive Him … really, deeply seek and receive the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings?

 

 

 

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It’s always so cool when the Holy Spirit reveals something new as I read scripture. In a few cases He has built on something He showed me long ago; the revealing is in stages and that really “wows” me!

I was reminded of one of those lessons this week when we read Matthew’s account of the genealogy of Jesus at mass … but it started long before that.

During a study of Ruth, I was touched by how kind Boaz was to Ruth from the first time he met her. She noticed it too and asked him how she had come to find favor with him and he simply said he had heard of the good things she had done for Naomi.

My original lesson from this was how our words can affect other peoples’ opinions. We are repeatedly cautioned in the Bible to guard our words and that they can be destructive – they can hurt or they can heal. Even one of the commandments is about bearing false witness.

So the Holy Spirit helped me appreciate the unknown person who had given Boaz such a positive report and good first impression of Ruth. Think about it – Naomi left the community with her husband and sons only to return years later with a foreign woman and a story about how the men had all died. Wouldn’t THAT be the topic of hot gossip and uncharitable speculation in any community!

I took that lesson to heart and thought of it once in a while when the Holy Spirit stirred it up within me again – usually when I caught myself about to gossip or say something unkind!

Years later I was starting a study of Matthew and it begins with that genealogy. I was paying attention to it more than usual, trying to associate any of the familiar names with their stories in the Old Testament.

And that’s when I noticed: “Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.”

Holy cow! That partly explained Boaz’s reaction to Ruth! Rahab was a foreigner who joined the tribe of Israel, too! Boaz would have been a mixed-race child, half Israelite from his father and half Canaanite from his mother. He would have been painfully familiar with the trials a “foreigner” faced within a community. I imagine he suffered certain attitudes toward his mother and toward himself growing up; perhaps he wondered why they had to be “different.”

We can see how God prepared him for the moment he met Ruth, how he shaped Boaz to treat her with kindness and to receive her as his wife. Perhaps as a mixed-race man, he had not been found “acceptable” as a husband to any of the Israelite women.

God brought Boaz and Ruth together in a surprising way and they were blessed to be the parents of Obed, the grandparents of Jesse, and the great-grandparents of King David.

Wow! All ancestors of Joseph, the husband of Mary.

I have never heard a sermon tying all of this together; I have never read a commentary that notes it. I guess it’s just one of those little lessons given to me in a personal way, and I think about it when I find myself suffering a trial and wondering what it means.

Sometimes we eventually see a lesson we were supposed to learn in it or can look back and see how it shaped us in a certain way.

But other times I think we may never know in this life the work that God is doing within us and the ways He uses it for others, maybe even far into the future.

When I am struggling, I find that very comforting.

 

 

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In this post I noted two passages in the book of Job that refer to Jesus … places where I see Jesus in the Old Testament.

Today it happened again; a very short but oh-so-precious scene just filled my heart.

God is quizzing Job and in 39: 9, He asks:

Will the wild ox consent to serve you, and to pass the nights by your manger?

Soon we will enter the season of Advent and that scene of the baby in the manger with an ox, a donkey and lambs surrounding Him will often be displayed. I will have a new love for that scene, now, thinking of the ox consenting to serve God and to pass the night by His manger.

Wow … that is just so beautiful to ponder!

 

 

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Twice now I’ve seen Jesus in the book of Job.

Quite some time ago I was struck by Job’s actions in the very first chapter:

His sons used to take turns giving feasts, sending invitations to their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when each feast had run its course, Job would send for them and sanctify them, rising early and offering sacrifices for every one of them. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Job did this habitually. (Job 1:4-5)

How cool is that, that Job would habitually offer sacrifices for every one of his children in case they had sinned?

I pondered how I might do the same for my own children. We don’t offer sacrifices today as they did in the Old Testament. The reason is simple … the perfect sacrifice has been made: Jesus’ blood was shed for our sins and He is the lamb that was slain.

And I came to realize that in a way, I could do as Job did – offering the sacrifice that Jesus already made – for the forgiveness of sins for my children. The Divine Mercy novena does just that and is a perfect prayer I can offer for my loved ones!

I have been very blessed since the Holy Spirit showed me that; I love seeing Jesus in the Old Testament!

This morning I was reading Job chapter 9. Job is lamenting how far he is separated from a mighty and holy and all-powerful God who is unapproachable and cannot be questioned. And I saw Jesus again …

“Would that there were an arbiter between us, who could lay his hand upon us both and withdraw his rod from me,

So that his terrors did not frighten me; that I might speak without being afraid of him. Since this is not the case with me, I loathe my life. ” (Job 9:33-35)

How blessed we are to have an arbiter! I thank God for His wisdom and mercy in sending His son to become one of us, approachable, a friend, our brother.

Who could have imagined it, or thought to ask for it?

 

 

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