Blog posts

JESUS: Jesus Wept, The Longest Verse In The Bible, by André Resner

(Meditation, Reflection, and Proclamation on John 11:35) From Living In-Between Lazarus came forth.  But what about the next day?  Did he no longer have that lower back pain after his resurrection?  He came forth to die yet again.  And there was no Jesus around to raise him the second time.  Mary and Martha had to go to their brother’s funeral twice, unless he was raised only to grieve at their funerals first. What do you say at someone’s second funeral? The heart yearns.  It yearns in the gap between the gnawing ache of our experience in the world and the dream of the promise.  The brokenness is sometimes all that we can see and feel. I wish I could fix these glasses.  My fourteen-year old son bought them.  He spent [...]

JESUS: Jesus Wept, by John Chrysostom

From Homilies of Chrysostom Jesus wept. Seest thou that he had not as yet shown any sign of the raising, and goeth not as if to raise Lazarus, but as if to weep? For the Jews show that he seemed to them to be going to bewail, not to raise him; at least they said, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? (John 11:35-37) Not even amid calamities did they relax their wickedness. Yet what he was about to do was a thing far more wonderful; for to drive away death when it hath come and conquered, is far more than to stay it when coming on. They therefore slander him by those very points through which they ought to have marveled [...]

POETRY: Cemetery, by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I walk these grassless grounds Cracked, withering in weeds. My eyes move From one monument to the next: a star For the hour of their births, a cross For the hour of their deaths. Grave after Grave, row after crooked row like fields Of rotting corn. My eyes fall On words: Para mi querido hijo, a mother’s Final letter to her war-dead son. The foreigner Has found a place, died for a flag that knows only How to wave adios in English. A broken angel, Wingless, protects the grave of an infant Whose name the wind has stolen. A cloud Covers the sun. It will not rain. I stand In this noonday darkness somewhere between A cross and a star, strip off my clothes, rags That hide my bones. Bones. Bones fighting to bare Their blankness to open air. [...]

POETRY: Aaron, by George Herbert

Holiness on the head, Light and perfections on the breast, Harmonious bells below, raising the dead To lead them unto life and rest: Thus are true Aarons dressed. Profaneness in my head, Defects and darkness in my breast, A noise of passions ringing me for dead Unto a place where is no rest: Poor priest, thus am I dressed. Only another head I have, another heart and breast, Another music, making live, not dead, Without whom I could have no rest: In him I am well dressed. Christ is my only head, My alone-only heart and breast, My only music, striking me ev’n dead, That to the old man I may rest, And be in him new-dressed. So, holy in my head, Perfect and light in my dear breast, My doctrine tun’d by Christ (who is not dead, But [...]

JESUS: Jesus Outraged And Grief-Stricken, by D. A. Carson

From The Gospel According to John When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him.  Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.  When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.  Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying 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 also weeping, he was deeply moved [...]

JESUS: He Weeps, by M. G. J. Beets

From The Wordless Voice Jesus wept. The Jews then said: “Look how he has loved him.” Some of them said: “Could this man who has opened the eyes of a blind man not have done something so that Lazarus would not have died?” (John 11:35-37) We assume, as a consequence of our approach to the gospel as a philosophical text of the highest importance which we are trying to understand in depth, that there is nothing we are told about Christ that does not have a special significance. In the verses 11:33 and 35 we are told that Jesus is distressed and that he weeps.  These words certainly mean that Christ shares with us our human emotion of grief and so, that he weeps becuase someone he loves has died and because of his [...]

JESUS: Living Vulnerability, by Vanessa Herrick and Ivan Mann

From Jesus Wept I see a wonderful kind of love! Thy Highness lieth in the straw: the hands that made the world make tiny gestures in a Mother’s arms: the eternal Wisdom, of his own will, is powerless to speak, to think. Whoso is wise will ponder these things and understand the loving kindness of the Lord. (My Lord’s Love, by Eric Milner-White) A Condescending God There are few more powerful images of vulnerability than a new-born baby; and the child’s defenselessness and utter dependence on those who care for him are heightened when the circumstances into which he is born are, in themselves, vulnerable.  Such an image can still have an impact even on our dulled consciousness when we recognize that it may be happening [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer For A Troubled Heart, by Christian Adams

O Lord, hear my cry pouring out from a troubled heart.  The sorrow that clutches at my soul has driven me to you, my protector and true friend, in time of need.  You know, my God, all my failings, my faults, and my sins, as well as the torment gripping my soul.  My greatest sorrow should be for my disregard of your holy commandments in the past, and I sincerely hope that you will grant me the grace of true contrition.  O my Savior, hide not your face from me in this tribulation.  Let the light of your countenance shine upon me that I may be illuminated by its love.  If it be your will, lighten this burden from me.  Yet should it be a means of my salvation, help me, help me O Lord, to carry this cross, for alone I can do nothing. [...]

SATURDAY READING: The First Christmas Tree, by Eugene Field

From A Little Book of Profitable Tales Once upon a time the forest was in a great commotion. Early in the evening the wise old cedars had shaken their heads ominously and predicted strange things. They had lived in the forest many, many years; but never had they seen such marvelous sights as were to be seen now in the sky, and upon the hills, and in the distant village. “Pray tell us what you see,” pleaded a little vine; “we who are not as tall as you can behold none of these wonderful things. Describe them to us, that we may enjoy them with you.” “I am filled with such amazement,” said one of the cedars, “that I can hardly speak. The whole sky seems to be aflame, and the stars appear to be [...]

FORGIVENESS: Role Reversal At Tables—Jesus, a Pharisee, and a Sinful Woman, by John T. Carroll

From: Luke: A Commentary Jesus, the man with the well-earned reputation of enjoying a good meal and befriending sinners, finds himself in a banquet setting where he can befriend the righteous.  At the home of a Pharisee, however, the unexpected appearance of a woman with her own reputation in the town – as a sinner – turns the occasion into another display of feasting and embracing, and being embraced by, a sinner.  The twin themes of inside-out role reversal and divergent responses to Jesus continue, bound up with differing views of his identity.  Jesus defends the uninvited guest who honors him and criticizes the righteous host who finds fault with him.  Within the realm of God, honor and virtue are not what, in polite company, [...]

FORGIVENESS: Reconciliation, by Todd Flowerday

The Lord asks, “Do you see this woman?” Is he speaking only to Simon the Pharisee? Or to us as well? In considering Luke 7:36-50, may we ask if this is an illustration of a sinner who comes to Jesus as an act of metanoia and of love? Or is this a prick of our consciences not to be like the Pharisee? Or is this a theological lesson how God forgives us, and what that mercy might look like in real life? One thing is certain: this is a rich reading that operates on many levels for the participants as well as us modern readers. Luke is a master dramatist, and no passage in his Gospel surpasses this for his skill as a storyteller: A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. [...]

POETRY: A Quintina Of Crosses, by Chad Walsh

Beyond, beneath, within, wherever blood, If there were blood, flows with the pulse of love, Where God’s circle and all orbits cross, Through the black space of death to baby life Came God, planting the secret genes of God. By the permission of a maiden’s love, Love came upon the seeds of words, broke blood, And howled into the Palestine of life, A baby roiled by memories of God. Sometimes he smiled, sometimes the child was cross. Often at night he dreamed a dream of God And was the dream he dreamed. Often across The lily fields he raged and lived their life, And Heaven’s poison festered in his blood, Loosing the passion of unthinkable love. But mostly, though, he lived a prentice’s life Until a singing in the surge [...]

POETRY: The Hymn Of Kassia

Traditional Greek Orthodox Sensing Thy divinity, O Lord, a woman of many sins takes it upon herself to become a myrrh-bearer, And in deep mourning brings before Thee fragrant oil in anticipation of Thy burial; crying: “Woe to me! For night is unto me, oestrus of lechery, a dark and moonless eros of sin. Receive the wellsprings of my tears, O Thou who gatherest the waters of the oceans into clouds. Bend to me, to the sorrows of my heart, O Thou who bendedst down the heavens in Thy ineffable self-emptying. I will kiss Thine immaculate feet and dry them with the locks of my hair; Those very feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise and hid herself in fear. Who shall reckon the multitude of my sins, or the abysses of Thy judgment, O [...]

FORGIVENESS: Forgiving Others

Gleanings From Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers Assembled by Fr. Seraphim Holland of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church …he who would be reconciled to God and have peace with God must first be reconciled with his neighbor. (Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk) …to forgive our enemies and to do good to them is true magnanimity – one of the greatest traits of likeness to God. (Lorenzo Scupoli) Abba Poemen also said this about Abba Isidore that whenever he addressed the brothers in church he said only one thing, “Forgive your brother, so that you also may be forgiven.” (The Desert Fathers) Abba Zeno said, “If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he [...]

CONTEMPLATION: The Penitent Woman, by William A. Anderson

From The Gospel of Luke: Salvation For All Humanity And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus [...]

PRAYER: Prayer, The Treasure Of Our Lives

From The Word Among Us The lifting up of our whole being in prayer is so pleasing to God! And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that [...]

PRAYER: The Miracle Prayer

Author unknown Lord Jesus, I come before you, just as I am. I am sorry for my sins. I repent of my sins. Please forgive me. In your name, I forgive all others for what they have done against me. I renounce Satan, the evil spirits, and all their works. I give you my entire self, Lord Jesus, now and forever. I invite you into my life, Jesus. I accept you as my Lord, God, and Savior. Heal me, change me, strengthen me in body, soul, and spirit. Come, Lord Jesus, cover me with your precious blood, and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I love you, Lord Jesus. I praise you, Jesus. I thank you, Jesus. I shall follow you every day of my life. [...]

TALES FROM BEYOND THE HORIZON: A Child In The Light And Shadow Of God

I like straight corners. If I am standing at the counter of a bank, I stand there straightening the piles of various forms. I wonder if people wonder at what I am doing. But I do it nonetheless. And the other day I found myself wanting to straighten the corners of my spirituality.  Specifically my relationship with the rest of the world that I live in. This is because I go through life feeling like I run into skewed corners all the time, all over the place, but do nothing about it. One place it shows up is around the phrase, When I came to Jesus.  It’s like a club of people.  And when that phrase is uttered, they grin at each other. Like new mothers who have discovered that they will not kill their first child from neglect.  I [...]

POETRY: The Insomniacs, by Adrienne Rich

The mystic finishes in time, The actor finds himself in space; And each, wherever he has been, Must know his hand before his face, Must crawl back into his own skin As in the darkness after crime The thief can hear his breath again, Resume the knowledge of his limbs And how the spasm goes and comes Under the bones that cage his heart. So: we are fairly met, grave friend— The meeting of two wounds in man. I, gesturing with practiced hand, I, in my great brocaded gown, And you, the fixed and patient one, Enduring all the world can do. I, with my shifting masks, the gold, The awful scarlet, laughing blue, Maker of many worlds; and you, Worldless, the pure receptacle. And yet your floating eyes reveal What saint or mummer groans to feel: [...]

CHILDREN: Children As Jesus’s Own, by Judith M. Gundry

From The Child in the Bible Jesus not only teaches and demonstrates through his actions his teachings, he hugs, lays hands on, and blesses the children.  While he previously touched to heal, now he touches to bless.  In Old Testament-Jewish tradition children were the objects of blessing on various occasions.  The Jewish Talmud attests the practice of bringing children to the elders (i.e., scribes) for blessing after the Day of Atonement, and some scholars have suggested that Jesus’s action here should be seen against that background.  But the late dating of rabbinic texts makes this move problematic, as does the lack of connection with the Day of Atonement in Mark. Jewish parents also blessed their children on certain [...]

CHILDREN: Let The Little Children Come, by Pam Norman

From Dramatix Summary: A modern retelling of Jesus welcoming the children. Style: Dramatic  Duration: 10min Scripture: Matthew 19:13.15 Actors: 3M, 2C Characters TOM: Disciple of Jesus – positive, big-hearted, merciful, with clipboard, pen, paper and envelope. PHIL: Disciple of Jesus – likes an argument, negative, judgmental with binoculars, with clipboard and pen. JESUS: Himself. JACK: Boy in red T-shirt. PHOEBE: Girl. Script (Jesus is sitting at the edge of the stage, looking off stage. He has just answered some difficult questions, spent a long time healing people, and being followed by a large crowd. He looks tired and is resting.) PHIL: [enters holding a clipboard and pen. He is counting up figures on the board. He is in a bad [...]

POETRY: After Three Days, by Lewis Carroll

I stood within the gate Of a great temple, ‘mid the living stream Of worshipers that thronged its regal state Fair-pictured in my dream. Jewels and gold were there; And floors of marble lent a crystal sheen To body forth, as in a lower air, The wonders of the scene. Such wild and lavish grace Had whispers in it of a coming doom; As richest flowers lie strown about the face Of her that waits the tomb. The wisest of the land Had gathered there, three solemn trysting-days, For high debate: men stood on either hand To listen and to gaze. The aged brows were bent, Bent to a frown, half thought, and half annoy, That all their stores of subtlest argument Were baffled by a boy. In each averted face I marked but scorn and loathing, till mine [...]

POETRY: A Christmas Carol, by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak mid-winter Long ago. Our God, Heaven, cannot hold him Nor Earth sustain; Heaven and Earth shall flee away When he comes to reign: In the bleak midwinter A stable-place sufficed The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. Enough for him, whom cherubim Worship night and day, A breastful of milk And a mangerful of hay; Enough for him, whom angels Fall down before, The ox and ass and camel Which adore. Angels and archangels May have gathered there, Cherubim and seraphim Thronged the air; But only his mother In her maiden bliss Worshiped the Beloved With a kiss. What can I give him, Poor as I am? If I [...]

CHILDREN: To Love The Lord, by Adrienne von Speyr

From Mark: Meditations for a Community Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. (10:14b-15) We will contemplate: 1. how the Lord wants to receive the children; 2. how the Kingdom of God belongs to them; 3. the condition for acceptance into the Kingdom. One: Let the children come to me, do not hinder them. The Lord knows that his influence will actually be greatest in children, children who are without complications, who thirst for love, feel his love, surrender themselves to it, and take it with them into their lives as a matter of course.  In doing so, they allow everything else, Christian [...]

CHILDREN: Models Of How To Enter The Kingdom, by Xavier Léon-Dufour

From To Act According to the Gospel Even though Jesus blessed the little children, he did not thereby affirm that the reign of God belonged to them.  Nevertheless, he held them up to his disciples as living models for them to imitate.  In what sense? Most readers of the gospels continue to follow the traditional interpretation, which the scholarly consensus also reflects: children are obedient and trusting, they provide an example of availability and are to be admired for their simplicity, innocence, and even humility.  But the Biblical perspective is quite different: children are a sign of divine blessing and must be exposed to the realities of the faith, first by their parents and then by their teachers until they reach the age of [...]

CHILDREN: Let The Children Come To Me, by A. James Murphy

From Kids and Kingdom Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so. This Christian hymn is learned by countless children every year.  It underscores Jesus’s concern and commitment for children in the vulnerability of youth.  The theme central to this hymn probably stems, in large part, from the widely familiar Biblical refrain, Let the young children come to me.  This verse has been used to justify infant baptism and communion for young children, Sunday-school programs, children and youth ministries, mission trips, and Christian relief agencies that specifically target [...]

PRAYER: Seven Things To Pray For Your Children, by Jon Bloom

From Desiring God Some years back a good friend shared with me seven scripture texts that he and his wife prayed for their two daughters from the time they were infants. The girls are now grown. And it’s beautiful to see how God has (and still is) answering the faithful, specific prayers of faith-filled parents in the lives of these young, godly women. I have frequently used these prayers when praying for my children, too; and I commend them to you. But, of course, prayers are not magic spells. It’s not a matter of just saying the right things and our children will be blessed with success. Some parents earnestly pray and their children become a gifted leaders or scholars or musicians or athletes. Others earnestly pray and their [...]

SPIRITUAL WARFARE: A Rant

I am angry.  Very angry. Well, at least I was. I came to a boil when I read the words that generally said in an article on deliverance that fighting Satan is no harder than taking out the garbage. That it’s merely something you might not want to do, but it’s your responsibility, so go for it. Oh, and there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Because you know, Jesus something or other. The man who was nailed to a cross to bleed to death because of evil has your back. You know. So forget about it. On the evening of the day that I read this – I won’t stoop to calling it nonsense – I heard the same statement made in a lecture. It must be in the air. Nothing frightening about Satan.  Oh, no.  He’s a peach.  A [...]

POETRY: First Forgive The Silence, by Mark Jarman

First forgive the silence That answers prayer, Then forgive the prayer That stains the silence. Excuse the absence That feels like presence, Then excuse the feeling That insists on presence. Pardon the delay Of revelation, Then ask pardon for revealing Your impatience. Forgive God For being only a word, Then ask God to forgive The betrayal of [...]

ABORTION: A Dangerous Reflection On The Feast Of The Holy Innocents, by Charles Pope

From The Archdiocese of Washington  Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, all those young boys in and around Bethlehem, two and under, whom Herod had massacred in order to kill Jesus Christ. We do not know their number or their names, but the church lists them as among her martyrs. Some have disputed that they should be called martyrs since they did not submit freely for the sake of Christ but were “merely victims” of Herod. Nevertheless, the church has long numbered them in her ranks of martyrs. Saint Augustine says of them: And while Herod thus persecutes Christ, he furnished an army (or martyrs) clothed in white robes of the same age as the Lord. O blessed infants! He only will doubt of your crown in this your passion [...]