Emmaus

Dear Friends,

Recently I read a story about a man who visited a church and was quite impressed by the artwork.  There were a series of beautiful stained-glass windows, and he came across what he thought were an unfinished version of the Emmaus story. The window presented Jesus at table with the two disciples holding bread in his hands.

The window was beautifully designed and colored — a real work of art. However, Jesus’ face and hands looked unfinished; rather than being beautifully designed and colored they were simply the type of glass that one might see on a lightbox used to illuminate X-ray films. He thought how odd it was that they had put this “unfinished” window in the chapel among all these other impressive works.

After a few moments, though, it dawned on him that the window artfully portrayed the real story of Jesus’ encounter with those early disciples; they and countless disciples throughout the ages thereafter would look upon Jesus not in his physical, earthly body, but rather would know him in the breaking of the bread. The physical presence of Jesus, as depicted in the window, had faded from the scene, while he would remain ever present among his people in the Eucharist.

The Emmaus story portrays the three essential elements of living a spiritual life within the context of the Church

  1. Coming together
    1. We Come together at Mass
    2. We Come together at the creed, professing One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith
    3. We Come together in service
  2. Scriptures
    1. For To know him is to love him.  We come to know Him in the Scriptures
    2. “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”, as Saint Jerome said
  3. Breaking of the Bread
    1. Notice its “breaking” rather than sharing of the bread
    2. Through the cross comes resurrection

The Emmaus story portrays the three essential elements of living a spiritual life within the Church. I wonder if the stained glass windows the author wrote about, portrays our participation in these three elements.  For by our coming together, allowing our hearts to burn within us in the reading of the scriptures, and in recognizing Christ in the breaking of the bread, perhaps we become what St. Teresa  of Avila wrote:

Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Peace,

Father Ken

 

 

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Divine Mercy

Dear Friends,

Our Lord has an infinite desire to impart His mercy to us.

From Sister Faustina’ s Diary:

“Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy.” #1146

First Point of Reflection of God’s Mercy: God waits for the sinner.

The Chinese bamboo tree is one of the most remarkable plants on earth. Once the gardener plants the seed, he will see nothing but a single shoot coming out of the bulb – for five full years! That tiny shoot, however, must have daily food and water. During all the time the gardener is caring for the plant, the exterior shoot will grow less than an inch.

At the end of five years, however, the Chinese bamboo will perform an incredible feat. It will grow an amazing ninety feet tall in only ninety days! Now ask yourself this: When did the tree actually grow? During the first five years, or during those last ninety days?

The answer lies in the unseen part of the tree, the underground root system. During the first five years, the fibrous root structure spreads deep and wide in the earth, preparing to support the incredible heights the tree will eventually reach.   In God’s waiting for us to make an act of our will to follow or to return to Him, much is happening. We are preparing a place for Him, and He is preparing a place for us.  Much of this preparation is like the underground root system, unseen.

From Sister Faustina’ s Diary:

“Tell souls not to place within their own hearts obstacles to My mercy, which so greatly wants to act within them. My mercy works in all those hearts which open their doors to it. Both the sinner and the righteous person have need of My mercy. Conversion, as well as perseverance, is a grace of My mercy.” (1577)

He waits for the sinner.  Saint Augustine said that

If God were not God, would be unjust on account of his excessive patience toward sinners.”

Were there times Mary “waited” for her son Jesus?

Example 1:  Luke 2 45 but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, 47 and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.

48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

Example 2: John 2, “Do whatever He tells you….”

Second Point of Reflection of God’s mercy. He Calls the sinner

He calls us to repentance. When Adam sinned, what did God do?

8They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Gen 3:8-9.

Like a father seeking a son.

It is as if Jesus is crying out:

I am weary with crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, from looking for my God. (Psalm 69:4)

Or

Behold I stand at the door and knock. Rev. 3:20.

Third point of Reflection on God’s mercy: God receives the sinner with kindness.

 A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which a man was beaten, robbed and left for dead.

She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would catch the drama.

Then, she asked the class: “If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?”

A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, “I think I’d throw up.”

Looking at scripture we see many times where the Lord is the Good Samaritan to us. We treat Him like an “outsider,” a “Samaritan”, yet He picks us up, and cares for us. 

From Sister Faustina’s Diary:

There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is being granted-it increases. The soul that trusts in My mercy is most fortunate, because I  myself take care of it.” (1273)

 Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Joel 2:12

Hosea 14:1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

2 Chronicles 15:4 But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him. –

With great love and tenderness Jesus accepts us.

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. Luke 15

11“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:11

God waits.

God calls.

God receives.

 

Blessed Divine Mercy Sunday!

Father Ken

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Gathered in the Upper Room

Friends,

Blessings this Easter and Easter Season.

The most important part of a prayer time, is the reflection after the reflection.  Here is where we reflect upon the experience with the Lord.  Similar to the drive home after the first day on a new job, we reflect upon the thoughts, feelings, and desires of the experience.

When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Batholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers…. (there was a group of about 120 persons in the one place). (Acts 1:13-15)

The Apostles gathered in the Upper Room with Mary.  This was their time of reflecting upon the experience of Jesus.  No doubt there were many mixed feelings, thoughts, and desires!

Now that Lent has completed, I invite you to reflect upon your prayer period called Lent.

 

 

Here are some reflection questions for you to reflect upon your Lenten experience:

  1. What was the strongest thought, feeling, desire during Lent?
  2. Was your Lenten experience more in the head (intellectual) or more in the heart (experiential and feelings)?
  3. What resolutions do you wish to make?
  4. Manner of reminder of these resolutions or remembrance of your consolations?
  5. Is there any unfinished business you need to tend to during the Easter Season?

It will only be through the power of the Holy Spirit in which the Apostles will finish the business began when Jesus called them to follow Him. It will also be only by the power of the Holy Spirit our Lenten reflections, practices, and resolutions will be completed.

Blessed Easter and Pentecost!

Father Ken

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Palm Sunday

Friends,

What do you want saved from?

They shout Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! (v. 13). These are lines from one of the Psalms of Ascents (Ps 118:25-26) sung as a welcome to pilgrims coming up to Jerusalem.

The cry of Hosanna! is a Hebrew word (hoshi`ah-na)  had become a greeting or shout of praise but in fact means “Save!” or “Help!” (an intensive form of imperative). Forms of this word were used to address the king with a need (cf. 2 Sam 14:4; 2 Kings 6:26).

The palm branches the people carry are symbolic of a victorious ruler (cf. 1 Macc 13:51; 2 Macc 10:7; 14:4).  Passover was one of the three feasts that Jews were supposed to attend in Jerusalem, and therefore the population of Jerusalem swelled enormously at this time.

Not a Caesar, but “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt” (v. 15; from Zech 9:9). He is indeed king, but not the sort of king they anticipated.

If today you shout Hosanna!  What is it, that you desire?  What do you want to be saved from?

Have a blessed Holy Week.

Father Ken

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Seeing as God sees

Dear Friends,

When I had a dog, I always wondered what he was thinking when he was looking at me so intently.  Probably, “I wonder if he is going to drop any food?” or, “Now where is he going?!?”  His gaze was so intent and seemingly accepting.  I always thought of it as God’s gaze upon me.

How can we see and look upon ourselves and others as God does?  Since all of us struggle with our fallen human nature, we look at ourselves and others as if we have the wrong prescription glasses.  We have a distorted view.

Perhaps if we examine Mary, who was conceived without sin, we might have an example of how to have the sight of God.

Cana Garden At the Spiritual Life Center

Three examples of Mary seeing as God sees:

  1. The Wedding Feast of Cana – John 2. Mary sees the need, sees the solution.  Freely allows Jesus to make His own choice.  What a great example of seeing as God sees.
  2. The Way of the Cross – Mary, sorrowful, sees meaning in suffering.
  3. The Upper Room with the Apostles – Acts 1:3. Remember, these were the men who betrayed her son Jesus.  How difficult it must have been for her to be with the very men who abandoned her son, yet she saw grace, even in the midst of weakness. (2 Co 12:9)

How to receive such sight?  Look at God look at you!

He looks at you longingly, always wanting to be with you, if you are willing to be with Him.  This begins with us being willing to be with ourselves.  For if we are not comfortable with ourselves, we will not be comfortable with the gaze of God, thus, like Adam and Eve, unable to come from hiding, to see what God sees.

Peace,

Father Ken

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