Friday, July 29, 2011
I took this picture from a boat on the Sea of Galilee. It captures well the kind of hillside where Jesus would have fed 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish (14:13-21.)
Even though these hills are not lush, they are clearly not a "deserted place" that Matthew describes as the setting of this miracle. That phrase reminds me of the desert through which Moses led the Hebrews and in which God fed them with manna. Throughout his Gospel Matthew wants me to see Jesus as the new Moses who delivers us from slavery to sin and gives us a new Law. Matthew wants to convince his fellow Jews that, with the destruction of the Temple and the end of the priesthood, following Jesus is the best way to be true to their Jewish heritage.
By having Jesus feed such a large number of people with so little, Matthew helps me to see that nothing can limit the love and concern Jesus has for everyone. In Romans 8:39 Paul says, "I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
It was in Galilee that I felt closest to Jesus. I could imagine the awe in the crowd as they passed the bread and fish without it's running out. On one of the hillsides the group I was with celebrated Mass and passed around the Body and Blood of Christ.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The parables in chapter 13 of Matthew's Gospel are exceptionally rich for meditation. In verses 45-46 Jesus says that the Reign of God is like one precious pearl for which a merchant will sell everything that he has. This pearl has not been hidden like the treasure in the field. That came as a total surprise. The merchant has been actively seeking fine pearls. My experience these past six months of finding God in a new way and growing in my relationship with this Spirit of Love has taught me to keep seeking even at 75.
What the parables of the treasure in the field and the one precious pearl have in common is that each man sells everything that he has to get it. The Reign of God is so precious that it matters more to me than anything. When I was young I couldn't see that it could mean more to me than my love for my parents and family. But when I get even a glimmer of understanding that "God is Love," I see that everyone else and all else is caught up in this Love. That makes it possible for me to let the Reign of the Spirit of Love matter more to me than anything.
(I have begun to notice a few comments on my blog. I will find out how to respond directly, but in the meantime please know that I appreciate those comments.)
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
A thrilling gift this morning. As I walked along the road in the picture, enjoying this lovely grove of trees, I felt as if I was being watched. I looked closely through the shadows and finally saw a deer standing about where this picture was taken. She looked at me for a minute or two and then took off for the woods to the far left of this picture. As she ran she took three majestic leaps like nothing I had ever seen before. I've seen a deer leap a fence but never just leap for the kick of it. I felt blessed and joyful. It has made my day.
I was meditating yesterday on Matthew 13:44 where Jesus says that the Reign of God is like a treasure hidden in a field. Seeing this deer leap was like finding a treasure which was at first hidden in the field. I did not go and buy the field like the man in the parable. The experience did, however, help me to think about how God often surprises us by some revelation of Presence and Love in the most ordinary of places. Surprised by Joy, the infallible sign of the presence of God.
Monday, July 18, 2011
These lilies look so vibrant against the water. One of the signs that full summer is here, my favorite time. I am able to enjoy it fully now that the shingles have faded.
Mattthew 13;33 is a parable that helps me to continue meditating on how closely God is mixed in with our world. Jesus says the Reign of God is like yeast that a woman hides in 50 pounds of flour until it all rises.
The Reign of God is like yeast that is transforming the whole world. Jesus isn't talking about saving us from the wicked world. He's talking about saving the entire wicked world! In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the yeast of the Spirit of Love has been mixed into the flour of our world. Once yeast is in the dough the baker can't get it out. So the Reign of God is gradually making our world rise, sometimes in a very hidden manner. The Greek says that the woman "hides" the yeast in the flour, a verb that very few English translations use. Yet I wonder if the mostly hidden nature of the Reign of God isn't part of Jesus' message in this parable. It's so hidden that I may often be tempted to think that God forgot the yeast; but with this short, powerful parable Jesus assures us that the Reign of God, the Reign of the Spirit of Love, is constantly working in us and in our world to bring all under God's influence.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Mountain laurel in a nearby forest. Nature spreads these wildflowers extravagantly.
The farmer in Matthew 13;1-9 spreads the seed extravagantly, without caution. He seems to have an unlimited supply.
In my meditation I see the farmer as God and the seed as God's love which God spreads extravagantly, without caution. God does have an unlimited supply. God is Love. The most important thing I know about God is that God loves us graciously, freely, without condition. I can do nothing to earn God's love.
At times I may have a heart as hard as a path much walked on. I may be enthusiastic but shallow. I may be choked by the cares and pleasures of this world. Neverthless, God loves me.
Like rich soil, my heart at times may be open to God's love a little, a little more, a whole lot. God always loves me the same.
From the first human being to the last, from here to the other side of the earth, God spreads Love. Like nature with her wildflowers, like the farmer with his seed, God spreads Love without caution.
Monday, July 4, 2011
This is how these flowers looked shortly after I planted them. I was hoping that by the 4th of July it would be flourishing red, white, and blue. The white, however, has taken over almost completely. Clicking on the picture enlarges it and I notice a spider on one of the white blossoms.
I continue to reflect on the freedom given to us by the risen Jesus. In Matthew 11:29-30, instead of the burdensome "yoke" of the Jewish religious Law, Jesus offers a "yoke" that is easy and a burden that is light.
He says, "Learn from me for I am gentle...." Gentle means putting people first. The highway signs that welcomed people to Maryland used to say, "Please drive gently." That meant "Look out for the other person." A gentleman is considerate of people. In many passages in the Gospels Jesus put people first. He had no use for a legalistic approach to religious Law. The Law, he said, was made for the people, not the people for the law.
So in asking me to learn from him how to be gentle, I find him asking me to learn his approach to the religious Law, his way of always putting people first, his sense of what is right and what is wrong. The more I become aware of Jesus living in me and the more completely I surrender my heart and conscience to him, the more he can share with me his goodness and freedom.
Friday, July 1, 2011
"May what I do flow from me like a river.
No forcing and no holding back.
The way it is with children."
When I turned over the calendar for July this mornng, this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke was next to a painting of children dancing around a tree. This insightful calendar is from Ministry of the Arts.org.
This freedom to be ourselves is the gift of the Risen Jesus and the heart of our 4th of July celebration.