Being Transformed

romans-12Will you be transformed? At one level that is the most basic question that is being asked of you each time you encounter the Word of God – proclaimed here in Church or in that still small whisper at the edge of your life or in the well of your soul. Will you be transformed?

Transformation is the very work of the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word…. All things came to be through him… What came to be through him was life.” Transformation from nothingness to a world created, a world filled and teeming with life. Such is the power one encounters in the Word of God: creative, transforming, bestowing life to the fullest. Continue reading

Reflections on Discipleship

prayer-candlesMatthew 16:21–27 21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 22 Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” 23 He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. 28 Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Continue reading

The Reason Why

what-is-discipleshipOne’s Motivation. The opening word “for” connects the judgment scene of v.27 with all the text regarding the disciple’s steadfastness and commitment to follow Jesus: it is worth remaining faithful even to the loss of earthly life because there is an ultimate judgment to come, and on the outcome of that judgment the enjoyment of true life will depend. Continue reading

Deny Oneself

Mark08v31to38_2006The Scene Changes. “Then Jesus said to his disciples” With these words the scene moves from the personal debate with Peter to a general pronouncement about discipleship, the first part of it echoing what Jesus has already said to his disciples in 10:38–39: “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” The disciples first reaction was not the softened “self-denial” or “take up one’s burden.” They understood the cross as the sign of Roman torture and death: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (16:24) Continue reading

Divine and Human Thinking

get-behind-me1The Suffering Messiah. “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (v.23) neatly summarizes the nature of the problem. The way the disciples react to the idea of messianic suffering and “defeat” shows that this concept of Messiah is going to be very hard to get across. Here, as elsewhere, the mention of resurrection on the third day gets lost. It is apparently so overshadowed by the suffering and death which precedes it that resurrection seems to pass unnoticed. Continue reading

Suffering and Glory

Matthew16v21to28_2008Matthew 16:21–27 21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 22 Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” 23 He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. 28 Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Continue reading

Binding and Loosing Rightly

JesusServingDid you know you are a priest? It is part of Catholic teaching that because of your baptism you share in a universal priesthood. Although having a different implication of such a priesthood, the German protestant Martin Luther described it this way: “The fact that we are all priests… means that each of us Christians may go before God and intercede for the other, If I notice that you have no faith or a weak faith, I can ask God to give you a strong faith.” Cardinal George, speaking about service, says a similar thing when he wrote: “Every Christian is someone else’s priest, and we are all priests to one another.” It seems to me that these notions of service as part of the universal priesthood very well fit the very readings on Holy Thursday, when we celebrate the sacramental priesthood, as Jesus takes off his cloak, puts on an apron and serves the disciples in the most menial of tasks: washing feet. The sacramental priesthood rests upon the more intrinsic foundation of the universal priesthood in which we all have the call to service because we are impelled by the love of God. Continue reading

What do you believe in there?

Nicodemus and JesusThere are many different scenes and settings in which this basic scenario can play out. Barbara Taylor Brown tells of a woman in her congregation who left church, her mind and attention already turned to many things. She did not notice a lost-looking man on the sidewalk staring up at the cross on the steeple. She excused herself and started to walk on her way when the man called to her, and, pointing to the doors of the church, asked, “What is it that you believe in there?” She started to answer and then was unsure of what to say, or how to say it, or if she should say it. After a long uncomfortable silence, the man said, “Sorry to have bothered you” and walked away. Continue reading

How wide the embrace?

ecclesial embraceWhat kind of person…what kind of community. As we noted at the beginning, a large part of the Matthean narrative is devoted questions: (a) who is Jesus, (b) what does it mean to be his disciples in the light of his identity, and (c) what choices will you make because of his call. Those are questions that could be asked of the community as well as the individual. Fr. Ronald Rolheiser makes that point well in his reflection “The Width of Our Ecclesial Embrace” Continue reading