The very first liturgical action in the Rite of Baptism isn’t pouring water – it is marking the one receiving baptism with the sign of the cross – traced on the forehead. At the same time speaking the words, “I claim you for Christ…” They are powerful words, words of life and death. Words that mark a new beginning. “I claim you for Christ…” This is who you are and whose you are. And now off you go into the world, into the wilderness of life, among the beasts and the angels among us. Continue reading
From time to time, I am asked “if the parish could use…” and what follows is a litany of things old and beloved, unusual and familiar, new and used, useful and whimsical, and the occasional, “I don’t know what it is, but it seems like it is holy.” The conversation is hardly ever (perhaps never?) with a person from the millennial demographic. At this point in their lives, they live minimally and do not have the same emotional connection to things as did the generations before. They are a mobile group and thus don’t want a lot of stuff when moving house or moving to a new city. IKEA will do just fine until things settle. Continue reading
Every year, as Lent approaches, parishioners ask for advice: What should I do for Lent? I am always happy to help a sister or brother in Christ to make Lent a time of spiritual growth. Maybe this year you might want to “upgrade” your source of Lenten advice. Well, who better to pick for as your Lenten spiritual director than Pope Francis? Here is his advice for a Lenten period of deepening your spiritual life. Continue reading
Now that Jesus has been introduced as the unique Son of God, the one who will embody the Spirit and even reverse the story of sinful humanity, his public ministry can begin. Mark notes that Jesus came to Galilee to preach after the arrest of John the Baptist (v. 14). His return to Galilee cannot have been an attempt to escape danger, since Herod Antipas, who executed John the Baptist (6:14–29), ruled Galilee and Perea. Continue reading
Satan. “Satan” comes from the Hebrew verb STN meaning “to be hostile, to oppose”. The noun means “adversary,” who usually is an earthling in the OT, but in 1 Chr 21:1; Job 1 & 2; Zech 3:1, 2 it refers to a heavenly being and is transliterated “Satan”.
In the LXX, the Hebrew satan was always translated by the Greek diabolos (“the slanderer, the devil”), a word that doesn’t occur in Mark. Continue reading
Traditions can be big or small, important and not. Not all traditions are created equal. If each one of us are to be a person faithful to Gods’ eternal covenant in Christ; if we are to be a church faithful to that covenant, then we must be a people who remember rightly and hold onto the Traditions that go to the heart of faith, the heart of the covenant. Continue reading
The account of the baptism moves immediately into Jesus’ test in the wilderness (eremos) as seen in the phrase “At once.” Jesus’ expulsion into the desert is the necessary consequence of his baptism; it is the same Spirit who descended upon Jesus at his baptism who now forces him to enter more deeply into the wilderness. In Mark, the Spirit is “casting out” or “throwing out” (ekballo) Jesus into the wilderness. (Matthew and Luke are a bit less graphic with the Spirit “leading” [anago & ago] Jesus.) In the wilderness Jesus is to be tested (peirazo) by Satan (Mk) or the Devil (Mt & Lk). Continue reading
Shrove Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday. The day is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, who are called to make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with – and then carry those reflections into the season of Lent.
The archaic verb shrive means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Shrove Tuesday derives from that linguistic root. The idiom “short shrift” shares that same heritage. In its original form short shrift referred to a brief period of penance granted to a person condemned to death so he or she could be cured of immorality before execution. This original meaning has little relation to the modern sense of short shrift, which usually bears negative connotations – brief and unsympathetic treatment. One usually does not want to be given short shrift.
This Shrove Tuesday, may we priests not give “short shrift” to penitents seeking to draw closer to God. May all of God’s faithful not give “short shrift” to their reflections and on-going conversion in this Lenten season. May we all find the time and place to “shrive” during Lent.
12 At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, 13 and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. 14 After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: 15 “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Continue reading