It seems to me that there are three points of focus in this story we know so well: Jesus, Lazarus, and the two sisters. Each of these characters are at a significant point in their lives, and how they respond reveals something of grace to us as we are led into the Holy Week to come.
Harassed and threatened by the Scribes and Pharisees, Jesus has gone out of the territory near Jerusalem to a safer place where he is welcomed and respected. There he can continue his ministry without threat or danger, avoiding the spies who are always trying to trip him up. … more »
Samuel 16, 1-7, 10-13 + Psalm 23 + Ephesians 5, 8-14 + John 9, 1-41
It is about sight not just about seeing. It is about the ability to perceive, understand and recognize what is seen. In these Gospel verses, the ones who can see are really the blind, and the one they call “blind” can see perfectly well. The Pharisees apparently had perfect eye sight, but they were certainly blind when it came to who was in their midst. What they remind us of is that blindness is not just a physical thing. It takes on many forms.
Selfishness blinds us to the needs of others. Insensitivity blinds us to the hurt we cause. … more »
Exodus 17, 3-7 + Psalm 95 + Roman 5, 1-2, 5-8 + John 4, 5-42
St Peter and St William Churches in Naples, FL
The woman in this story we know so well is suffering, and the suffering she experiences is shame. I believe that is why she comes to that well at mid-day. She needs to avoid the other women who would be coming there in the early morning or evening to avoid the mid-day heat. She’s there at the hottest time of the day. We have no details about why she has lived with so many men, but the cultural historians would tell us that she was probably a concubine which today we would describe as a sex slave. … more »
The old adage, “What you see is what you get” does not always hold true. Until that day on a hill top, all those men had been seeing was a man who had excited and inspired them with talk of a new age and some wonderful signs they could not fathom. But, he always looked like one of them. Then something happened. Six days after talk of his violent death which they refused to accept, six days after Peter answered a question he posed about who people said that he was, something happened to those men. … more »
Blessed are the Pure of Heart for they shall see God
Ezekiel 36, 23-27 & Luke 10, 38-42
We are told that Saint Catherine was at one time very devoted to the verse from Psalm 51, “create in me a clean heart”; and one day she had a strange experience in which it seemed that the Lord came to her and removed her physical heart. Later he inserted a new heart into her, his own heart saying, “I am giving you my heart so that you can go on living with it forever.” Now whatever else we may want to make of a story like this, it is at least a dramatic representation of the teaching of St Paul. … more »
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Luke 19, 41-44 and John 11, 33-35
There is an intensity with this Beatitude just as with the others. The Greek word that Matthew chooses means more than sorrow. It means, agony. Πενθουντες speaks of a broken heart, the kind of broken heart that comes from a great loss like the grief felt by a parent over the death of a child. Thinking of it in this way, with this sense, we gain a deeper insight into God himself, a God who grieves, the kind of grief that a father would experience over the death of his first and only son. Think of David and his response to the death of his dearest son. … more »
Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Luke 16, 19-31
It is helpful to remember that the Beatitudes are not statements, they are exclamations which is why some translations will say, “Happy” But that English word is not so good because Happy gives away its own case. It contains the root “hap” which means “chance”. Human happiness is something which is dependent on chances which come and go. Life gives and also takes. It’s all by “chance”. Not so with the meaning of these exclamations. This is about Blessedness and Joy which nothing in life can take away. So, these are not pious hopes of what shall be. … more »
After Jesus leaves the desert he makes his way into Galilee which for him is home territory since Nazareth is in that area. There he meets and calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John. We are told that crowds gathered around, and so like another Moses, up the mountain he goes and there he unfolds the conditions of a new covenant that will be sealed in his blood. Like the commandments which expressed the old covenant, the Beatitudes Jesus speaks of unfold the conditions and promises of the new covenant, and into that new covenant we will venture this week during our Parish Lenten Mission. … more »
I have always found it important to notice that the first temptation Jesus faces in the desert is about hunger and food. This trusting Son of God will not overreach his humanity. He does not play the “I am Divine” card, so to speak. He works no miracle for himself. The miracles he will work later are for others only. He quotes the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy to remind us of the Hebrews who grumbled in the desert about the food that God provided every day. Addicted to overeating, junk food, and full pantries, too much of this world is deaf to the Word of God, and the consequence is hunger and starvation. … more »