In today’s Gospel, people from towns all over Galilee hurried to see
and hear Jesus. His heart was moved, for they appeared to be “sheep
without a shepherd.” Jesus is that shepherd. Jesus is our shepherd. He
has drawn us here today, from different households, from different
families, perhaps even from different towns. We come today to celebrate
the Eucharist, this wonderful sacrament that Jesus established to be
celebrated in his name until the end of time, this sacrament in which
we receive our Lord, our redeemer, our shepherd.
“In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit” We say this when we enter a church, begin Mass or begin prayer. It is our identity. It reminds us that we are in the presence of God. It joins us to millions of other Christians across time and space. It expresses our belief in the Triune God. Three persons in one God enabled God to become incarnate, enabled God to come down upon us in baptism, and enables God to be with us here today and every day. Let us contemplate the great woners God has done and continues to do in our daily lives.
When have I noticed the Spirit’s presence in my life? How can I become more
aware of the Spirit’s effect on me
It’s nearly eight o’clock in the morning, and I’m listening to the whir of the coffee grinder as dark, roasted beans churn. Steam is starting to rise from the kettle. I decide not to turn on the morning new. NOT YET, I tell myself. Soon, I’m pouring a thread of water in circular motions over the ground coffee, mounded just slightly in a paper cone. Water begins to drip and fill the glass base. As I wait I crack open my morning prayer book, find the days readings and begin to read quietly. This morning I am on schedule takin in Scripture before the news hots my ears.
I take a seat in my wingback chair, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing- in and out. As my breathing slows, I begin to pray, focusing on many things heavy on my mind and heart, and then offering them into the only hands that can bear the weight. I spend some time in silence.
And then, I turn on the news, and the emails, and everyone else the day involves. At some point in the afternoon, i break for a run. I change my clothes, put in my ear buds, and listen to the Pray As You Go App. Peaceful music and scripture was over my mind as I run around the lake. I am invited to reflect on the text, to offer to Jesus whatever burdens or gifts the Scripture brings to mind. I feel cleansed. Renewed. Of course these are the good days.
There are many days when this liturgical rhythm simply doesn’t work. Either because I jump straight from bed to into a project I left unfinished from the night before, or because there is simply no time for an afternoon run, there are many days when my daily liturgy is disrupted. And i am increasingly aware of its cost.
Recently I was thinking of the story of Genesis where our first parents are hiding after those fateful bites of fruit. I was thinking about how God is described as “walking in the Garden in the cool of the evening”, one of my favorite images in Scripture. And i was thinking about God’s question “Where are you”?
On thesse busy days when I jettisoned my morning or afternoon liturgy for the sake of an email or a project, I wonder if God asks the same of me . “Where are you?”
I like to think that this account of God walking in the cool of the evening suggests that God was in the habit of meeting the first humans here. As though an evening stroll and conversation were part of God’s own daily liturgy. I like to picture God still taking those evening strolls, or sitting alongside us during our morning coffee and prayer, eager to meet us on the way.
But some days we hide, out of sheet busyness, exhaustion, guilt or shame, like our first parents. Whatever the reason, I imagine God’s question to us is the same question God raised in the garden. “Where were you?”
I like to think its not just for our sakes that we open our morning devotional, spend time in silent prayer, or listen to Scripture on an afternoon walk or run. Perhaps God, too, intends to meet us here.
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Jesus tells us in todays Gospel that he remaims in us and if we remain in Him we will bear much fruit. Gathered together today, we are a visibile sign of a community who remains in thier Lord. May the sustenance we receive here from Word and Eucharist nourish us so that we may bear much fruit.
In order to flourish and bear fruit, the vine needs to be pruned. What in me needs to be pruned so that I can bear fruit to the fullest extent possible.
This is what we know about ol’ Shebna, so called “master of the palace”. He was the chief of staff for KinHezekiah, a weak ruler during the time when Isaiah was the main prophet of Jerusalem. Hezekiah need a lot of counsel to get through the average day. Isaiah and Shebna both had their work cut out for them.
However, Shebna was no great shakes a palace master. In the fuller passage for today, Isaiah reveals that Shebnas has ca himself and elaborate tomb, more fitting for a king rather a servant. Maybe Shabna was cooking the books and skimming the profits? Isaiah announces that Shebna is getting bounced and a fellow servant is taking his job. (Spoiler: the next guy is no better) Elsewhere, Shebna is identified as Hezekiah’s scribe. Maybe his fall weasn’t so far. Or perhaps literacy couldnt be wasted.
WE ALL MOVE THROUGH VARIOUS SEASONS IN LIFE, SOME HONORABLE, SOME DISGRACED. (Dras a time line of you lifes ups and downs)
The more youread the Bible, the more you realize its not just a book, but a library. And all these writer are quoting or referring to each others texts-without always providing the courteous citation. The original audience recognized the references. In our less oral culture, we don hear the reference and could use the footnote.
Here Paul quotes Isaiah, followed by Job, and presumes we are good with that. Curiously he is using Greek texts and not Hebrew ones, as a Rabbi would. It’s one more reasonPauls an outsider to the Jerusalem Christians: He is for Tarsus in Cilicia (Turkey), not born and bred in Glilee like the original disciples. Pal didnt walk with Jesus but often claims to know more about the mind of Christ than the Twelve! Those who think our current church has factions should read the New Testament again.
THE EARLY CHURCH WAS NO DREAM COMMUNITY OF PEACE AND JOY. What issues divide the Church today?
Moat people reading this will identify themselves as Christian, maybe Catholic, most likely believrs or at least church goers.
But do all these categories mean , and which is the most important claim for us to make in expressing our identity?
Jesus asks his followers to identify who he is, In order to do that, we also have to reveal who we are in the religious scheme of things. We cant claim Jesus as Lord, for example, unless we’re willing to identify as his servants. We cant call him Son of God unless we are prepared to be worshipers. If he is Savior of the world, then we have to let ourselves be saved. If he’s our teacher, then we better be prepared to learn our lessons. When it comes to naming Jesus, we name ourselves in the same measure. Who is he? And who are we?
MAKE CLAIMS ABOUT THE IDENTITY OF JESUS THAT MATTER MOST OF YOU. CONSIDER WHAT EACH CLAIM DEMANDS OF YOU IN TURN.
1 Kings 19:9a, 11–13a Elijah recognized God in the tiny whispering sound.
Psalm 85 “Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.”
Romans 9:1–5 Paul speaks the truth in Christ.
Matthew 14:22–33 Jesus walks on the sea.
Elijah and Peter each encounter the Lord in an unusual way in today’s
readings. Elijah expected the LORD to come in the wind, in an earthquake,
or with fire, but instead it was in a tiny whispering sound. The Lord
appeared like a ghost to the disciples during a storm and Peter dared
to walk across the raging sea. How do we encounter the Lord? Here in
this space we encounter the Lord in his Church, gathered together in
his name, and in the Eucharist
1 Kings 3:5, 7–12 – Solomon asks for an understanding heart. Psalm 119 “Lord, I love your commands.”
Romans 8:28–30 -God predestined us to be conformed to the image of the Son.
Matthew 13:44–52 “The kingdom of heaven or 13:44–46 is like a treasure buried in a field.”
Today we encounter a number of people whom fortune smiles upon. Solomon, heir to David’s throne, is visited by God, who promises him whatever he wishes. In the Gospel, a random person discovers buried treasure and a merchant searching for fine pearls finds a pearl of great price. How do these people respond? How would we respond? Let us listen to God’s word and contemplate our true fortune, our true treasure.
Again this week Jesus uses parables to describe the kingdom of heaven. The act of buying a field in which you’ve just reburied a treasure seems strange and a little deceptive, but in the uncertain political situation of Jesus’ time, and especially at the time the Gospels were written, hiding a treasure underground was not uncommon. The parable’s point is that the finder gives everything he has to gain that treasure. So must we be willing to do to gain the treasure of heaven.
What or whom have I overlooked in searching for the kingdom of heaven? How can I develop an understanding heart?
Wisdom 12:13, 16–19 God gives repentance for our sins.
Psalm 86 “Lord, you are good and forgiving.”
Romans 8:26–27 The Spirit intercedes for us.
Matthew 13:24–43 Let the seeds grow together until harvest.
It is a great pleasure in the middle of these slow summer months to sit back and listen to stories. The crowds in the Gospel were able to do just that, for Jesus taught them by telling parables. Parables made his lessons about the kingdom of heaven memorable, in ways in which straightforward narration would fail. Now it is our turn to listen. Let us listen to them, reflecting on their rich images and considering their meaning in our lives.
It is not likely that a farmer or gardener would follow the householder’s example in the Gospel. Left unchecked, weeds will compete with plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients. At best, the good plants will not bear as much fruit. At worst, they will wither and die. Good farmers keep their land as free of weeds as possible. Yes, pulling up weeds that are mixed in with plants may damage the crop, but allowing them to grow together just gives them more opportunity to damage the crop. However, as Jesus reveals to his disciples, parables are not meant to be taken literally. God, the wise and merciful judge, is patient with the weeds, allowing them to grow to completion. Growth implies change. Change effected by the Spirit, who comes to the aid of human weakness, is transformative. Throughout the human growing season—our lifetimes—there remains hope for even the most wicked of weeds.
Look at me!!
How does God’s patience with the weeds change the way you act toward others? To whom do you need to show mercy this week?
Isaiah 55:10–11 God’s word accomplishes its intended purpose.
Psalm 65 “The seed that falls on good ground
will yield a fruitful harvest.”
Romans 8:18–23 All creation eagerly awaits the glory of God.
Matthew 13:1–23 A sower went out to sow.
How appropriate that in the middle of summer we hear readings from scripture that speak of the fruitful earth. Looking around outside we likely see a cavalcade of green. Trees and grass, plants and flowers are nourished by the summer rain and sun. When we gather together here on Sunday our faith is nourished by the Lord through word and sacrament. Let us pray that we may be rich soil for the word of God to take root, bloom, and thrive across the earth. How appropriate that in the middle of summer we hear readings from scripture that speak of the fruitful earth. Looking around outside we likely see a cavalcade of green. Trees and grass, plants and flowers are nourished by the summer rain and sun. When we gather together here on Sunday our faith is nourished by the Lord through word and sacrament. Let us pray that we may be rich soil for the word of God to take root, bloom, and thrive across the earth.
At first glance, the sower seems to be doing a lousy job of sowing. Why throw seed onto a path or on rocky ground where it has little chance of germinating? Why not take the time to pull the thorns first so that they won’t choke the plants later? Wouldn’t it make the most sense to sow all the seed in rich soil? But God will not limit where the seed goes. Everyone gets a chance to receive God’s grace, no matter what obstacles may be in the way. God’s wild extravagance gives goodness a chance to bloom in unexpected and unlikely places, allowing it to bear fruit far beyond expectations.
How can I be more receptive to God’s word, like rich soil? What specific action can I accomplish this week to bear fruit?
Before he gave his body and blood on the cross for the salvation of he whole world, Jesus gave his body and blood to his disciples in
the form of bread and wine, instructing them to continue this practice in memory of him. Like the LORD providing water and manna in the
desert, Jesus provides food and drink to sustain us, taking it one step further by transforming it to his own Body and Blood. As we receive
the Eucharist today, let us realize the sustenance we are given. May the Eucharist we share today strengthen and enliven us as we bring Jesus
with us to the world.
If we’re fortunate, we spend some time each day eating together with our loved ones. It may be with just one other person; it might be with a large family. We may often eat together with coworkers or friends or even neighbors. But the Eucharist is probably the one occasion at which we regularly eat with everyone: family and friends, neighbors and strangers. No matter how large or how diverse the gathering is, one thing is true: we never eat alone. We eat as one of many, as the body of Christ.
How does this weekly celebration of the Eucharist make a difference in my life?