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Spiritual Reflections

Transformation

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German pastor and social activist Christoph F. Blumhardt once said that it is not enough to celebrate Easter by saying, "Christ is risen." It is useless to proclaim this unless we can also say that we have died with him and that we have also risen with him ("Christ Rising," from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter, The Plough Publishing House, 2003). Jesus has come from God to live in our midst as one of us. He has endured and conquered the finality of death. He has laid the foundation for a new life and a new world order.

Receive what you are

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Students of Scripture must be well versed in the principle of Uhrzeit als End-zeit. Many of our sacred authors employed it. The German phrase can be translated as "The beginning is actually the end." The technique is used when one is trying to direct his or her readers' eyes to a future goal that the author is deeply committed to instilling in their minds and hearts. But instead of just stating, "This is what I expect you one day to become," the writer paints a picture of an ideal past in which those longed-for qualities were already present and practiced.

Risen and transformed

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Many of us learned in grade school religion classes that Jesus' resurrection was simply God's seal of approval on everything Jesus taught and did. So if he didn't actually rise from the dead, then the religion he founded and all the rules we learned in our catechism classes weren't binding on anyone. We'd best look for another religion.

The nature of God

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In his essay "The Signature of Jesus," Brennan Manning passes on the story of an elderly man who meditated every morning under a big tree on the bank of the Ganges River (Multnomah Pub., 1996). One morning, after he had finished praying, the man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion washed nearer to the tree, the man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that extended over the river and reached out to save the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively, the man withdrew his hand.

Living water

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Anthony de Mello tells the story of the little girl who asks a boy, "Are you a Presbyterian?" He answers, "No, we belong to another abomination." That's a great starting point for appreciating today's Gospel and how Moses and Paul might comment on it.

John tells multilayered stories open to a variety of interpretations. The way he presents Jesus' interaction with the Samaritan woman and their respective communities could be a screenplay summarizing the entire Gospel.

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