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Spiritual Reflections

Responding to his voice

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Practically none of our Scripture writers take pen to papyrus unless there are problems in the communities for whom they write. Surfacing these problems is one of the main tasks of biblical exegetes. There never was a “golden age” of faith; each generation of believers had difficulties putting their faith into their everyday lives, difficulties that continue to pop up generations and centuries later. That’s why people of faith eventually saved these particular writings. They helped them understand the implications and pitfalls of their own faith.

An evolving church

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A week has passed since our annual celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, the central tenet that informs and inspires our worship together for the remainder of the Easter season -- and always. Although it may not be clearly evident at first glance, we have made our way from one period of our salvation history into another. We have turned the page from the time of Jesus of Nazareth, who came as one of us, who went about doing good, who suffered for his goodness and for the truth and justice of his teaching, who died innocently for the sake of sinners and who rose to live eternally in glory.

A new perspective

On Easter morn we naturally expect to hear Christ’s disciples leading us in an alleluia chorus, filled with joy at the Resurrection. For that, we would have done better to attend the Easter Vigil with its history of salvation, the singing of the Exultet and the angels’ announcement that Christ had been raised. What a comedown to hear this morning’s Gospel proclamation of the disciples’ disconcerted confusion!

Faith is forever new

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Our sacred Scriptures contain many stories about how God dealt with people thousands of years ago. Even before I actually picked up a real Bible, I learned about some of these awesome feats in Bible history class. Yahweh delivered the Israelites from a catastrophic flood, led them through the Red Sea “dry-shod,” even stopped the sun’s course so they could win battles. Someone would be out of his or her mind not to follow a God who regularly staged such dramatic events.

Breaking the rules

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Jesus chose to associate with people whom the rest of his contemporaries found reprehensible. Today, we are used to this notion, and we tend to romanticize his behavior. In his own time, however, it was shocking and offensive. Jesus’ manner was so off-putting that many people could not move beyond their repulsion to hear and accept his message. In a word, he was a rule-breaker, an iconoclast, and those who would follow him with integrity are to do the same.

Standing in truth before God

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Have you ever been listening to a homily and suddenly find yourself wishing that so-and-so was here because they really need to hear this? In your mind’s wandering, have you thought so-and-so in the row in front of you should be taking notes? How often do we mentally excuse ourselves from the truth being preached and its challenges because we do not see ourselves as God sees us, as others see us, as we are?

Crossing over

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Rudolph Bultmann once described our sacred writers as people who had glimpses of the “other side,” but wrote for people “on this side.”

Though they admire the well-known scholar’s insights, most Scripture experts today would disagree with the last half of Bultmann’s statement. Certainly people who have had no experience of the other side read their writings -- anybody can read the Bible -- but these special authors originally wrote for people who had also visited the other side, who had personally touched an awesome God and lived to tell others about it.

Becoming other Christs

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At the end of his life, Moses delivers some final words to the Israelites, who are finally about to enter the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 26:4-10 concerns the proper way to offer the first fruits of their future harvests. Setting their offering before Yahweh’s altar, they’re to say, “My father [Jacob] was a wandering Aramean who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as an alien. But there he became a nation great, strong and numerous.”

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In This Issue

August 15-28, 2014

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