Real power

We are invited to follow Jesus to the Cross every day of our lives, but no more so than on this day, Good Friday.

EDIT MDTP Good Friday notre dame fireJesus death on the Cross was an exercise of what appeared to be power on the part of the Romans, but instead was an expression of fear. Mary DeTurris Poust, in her book of Lenten reflections, Not By Bread Alone from Liturgical Press offered a powerful thought for this day, and I leave that with you for your prayer and contemplation. Once again the Cross at Notre-Dame Cathedral after the fire provides us with inspiration and hope.  This is an image how real power resurrects, even in the midst of the worst death.

What will we die to today? Our ego? Our hubris? Our fears that puff us up or tamp us down? Our distractions or addictions? Whatever it is, we in one way or another have prayed to be transformed by Christ during our Lenten journey in the desert with him. How willing are we in the end to be transformed? Are we willing to trust the small turns of transformation of each Lent and each day of our life as we die to the lure of some overnight event, such as winning the lottery or suddenly no longer wanting to take a drink? Or are we still hoping for something that will externally change our lives? All the while Jesus continues to beckon from within.

Transformed or not, we are all called to remember that in our daily lives and exercises of power and our use of, or response to fear of the power around us. In God is the strongest power, the power that saves into eternity. We must remember that, especially today.

Many people object to the symbol of the crucifixion, many Christians even. But without crucifixion there can be no resurrection. One is entirely dependent upon the other, they cannot be separated, although it is the Cross that triumphs. If we are left uncomfortable by the Cross, maybe it is time to die to our literalism and to be born in the hope of the Cross. God does not choose to punish us cruelly. We all do a bang up job of doing that to one another and ourselves. God invites us to eternal life. That is real power. Are we ready?

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Must burn

D4OfvVBX4AUj-UMThis image of the interior of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame after the fire is haunting. In the darkened sanctuary a cross stands, shining in the distance.  The words of Viktor Frankl remind us “what is to give light must endure burning.” 

Upon awakening from a night of fitful sleep I thought about  Fluctuat nec mergitur. This Latin phrase translates more or less to she is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.”  Since at least 1358 it has been used as the motto by the city of Paris. Today the city of Paris, the City of Lights, or in French, La Ville-Lumière has been tossed indeed. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame rests in the remains of smoke and ashes after a devastating fire, but it has not sunk, nor has Paris itself. Yet when I woke up, I had to wonder if it had really happened.

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Here we are on Tuesday of Holy Week Continue reading

Surely it is not I

cusco-cathedral

La Ultima Cena (The Last Supper), The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, Cusco, Peru

Today’s Gospel from Matthew reminds us of something that we all have to deal with – our denial of Christ. No, we may not be Judas Iscariot, ready to turn Christ over for 30 pieces of silver, but we all have our moments whether we can admit it or not.

No one likes to believe that we would abandon Jesus, but we all do it in various ways, often unknown to ourselves. Little acts, moments of indifference, a lack of generosity – these are all the elements of our own “surely it is not I” moments. Then of course there are the larger things

The Sacred Triduum begins tomorrow on Holy Thursday. Because this particular line of the Gospel has been on my heart all week, I am planning on trying to be more aware of my own “not I” actions. I’m not sure how I will do, but awareness is the first step. May your days of the Triduum be blessed, and may we all see more deeply into the life that God calls us to, dying to self and rising in new life.

But he was silent

 

But he was silent and answered nothing.Mark 14:61

Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.Mark 15:5

PalmsToday is Palm Sunday and we hear once again the Passion proclaimed in our churches. These two sentences struck me as I listened and prayed with the Gospel at mass on Saturday night.

Jesus’ silence says more than his words at these moments. And of course silence is probably one of the Continue reading

Yes or no? The Holy Thursday edition.

siegerkoder-washing-of-feetOn this Holy Thursday, let us remember that where there is charity and love, God is there. God is always present, but in charity and love, the presence of God is made real. To love others, to serve others, to walk courageously with Christ, no matter what we face… this is our way of life.

However, we all fall asleep, get distracted, we can’t face the hardest truths, we do not always love as we have been loved. Yet, all it takes is one moment in which our avoidance, our fear, our absence all turns towards the One. A single yes uttered in a sea littered with the refuse of a lifetime of no no no can change everything. It does not have to happen in church, it might be a hello to a stranger, coffee for a homeless person, opening the door for that annoying neighbor and inviting them in instead of pretending not to be home. The charity and love of the word yes, typically a yes uttered in the face of resistance is the inbreaking of the divine.

The simple repeated chant of this Ubi caritas from Taize is a prayer for all of us. Where will charity and love be present today? The answer lies with each of us. Love one another, serve one another. May the blessings of Holy Thursday and the Triduum be with you all, may the eternal love of Christ guide us today and always.

Ubi caritas et amor,
ubi caritas,
Deus ibi est.
(Where there is charity and love,
God is there.)

You shall not kill

no-killing_designA question has nagged me all during Lent, and now sits front and center on Good Friday. That question is: why do we kill one another?

Well, why do we kill one another? The Fifth Commandment states: “You shall not kill.” This seems very clear, but as human beings we seem to find numerous ways to rationalize a great deal of killing, and even more ways of denial when it comes to deaths we might be able to prevent. Consider how poverty, hunger, drugs, lack of medical care, human trafficking, the death penalty, torture, and war are the tip of the iceberg.

thou-shall-not-kill-2People die every day and not all of them are killed, but we will focus on those who are killed. I’m going to back up for a moment and pose my original question again: why do we kill one another?

We kill one another all the time, and seemingly with great ease. A few things that come to mind are the great bargains on the clothes we like to wear, getting good prices on flights, putting out-of-season produce on our tables, shaking our heads – whether with Continue reading

Authority, transformation, and dirty feet

hi-pope-kissing-feetTrue authority presents itself in service and flows downward. Authentic change presents itself in justice through community and flows upward. Transformation happens when they meet in they dynamism of the Spirit. This is only accomplished through life in Christ.

I have washed feet and I have had my feet washed. No surprise that the getting washed was more challenging than the washing. Well, except for maybe when I had my feet washed by someone with whom I had a difficult relationship.

As a former corporate executive and leader, I can tell you that you can’t make anyone do anything. As an ordinary human, I can tell you that cannot make someone love you. Of course you can force people to do things, you can chase someone to no end, but no real authority, change, or love will come from that. The only change will be the disintegration that comes from anything to discomfort all the way to hate. This is not the integrity that emerges from the love known as agape.

jesus-washing-peters-feet-by-sieger-koderWhatever you do this Holy Thursday, whether you get your feet washed or you wash those of another, don’t think of any church service as a nice re-enactment. That is why the Eucharist is different, we are not re-enacting anything, we are not “getting” anything, we are not forced to something.

Eucharist is about what we give in love, put at the service of world in Christ. Eucharist is about how we are all transformed into what we are becoming. This can only happen in community, it is not a moment that is between any one of us and Jesus alone, it is about the whole, the entire Body of Christ – which is Continue reading