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Spiritual Reflections

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.”

Just a job or a vocation?

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What do you do for a living? This is a common question, easily answered: “I’m a teacher, nurse, architect, chef, accountant, lawyer,” etc. Each answer points to a personal choice and suggests years of study and preparation in a specific field. Each job provides individuals with a means of supporting themselves and those they love. At times, however, even the best of jobs can become a necessary but tedious chore.

Real presence

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It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of today’s second reading. Paul’s insights give us the foundation for understanding the presence of the risen Jesus among us: an essential part of early Christian experience.

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Compare and contrast

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We have no idea which miracle the historical Jesus first worked. Our four Gospels aren’t much help in determining the event. Each evangelist carefully chooses Jesus’ first miracle. It sets the theme for the rest of his Gospel.

Only in John’s Gospel do we find the changing of water into wine at Cana as the first miracle Jesus performs. There are two keys to understanding its meaning and the theme John is creating. First, throughout his Gospel, John never refers to miracles as miracles. He always calls them “signs.”

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In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

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