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Category Archives: BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS 2017

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET BELIEVE

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET BELIEVE

(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR A] – 23 April 2017)

[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]

 

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31 

First Reading: Acts 24:42-47; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Second Reading: 1Peter 1:3-9 

The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)

Our knowledge is so far from being absolute, and our information so limited, that we have to treat all data with humility. It is precisely with such humility that we must approach the scriptural accounts of Christ’s resurrection, and not with the kind of obstinacy shown by Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe until he had touched the wounds of Christ’s body.

Thomas failed in two ways: he wanted to verify the faith by physical means, and as well he was not prepared to accept what the rest of the Christian community had by now come to believe. However, we should never imagine that, because of visions of the risen Christ which all the Apostles were privileged to experience, the road to faith was an easier one for them than it is for us. Indeed Luke states quite clearly that when Christ, in the Upper Room, had shown them His hands and His feet, “they still thought it was too good to be true”. It was not only Thomas who doubted. They all had to grapple with the question of what really had occurred (see Luke 24:36-41). And their message for us, and that of Mary Magdalene also in her search for the body of Christ, could well be summed up in the inspired words of the prophet Jeremiah: “You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). This risen Lord was no phantom or hallucination, but rather so real that one could touch or cling to Him. The Jesus who had died was in very truth the Christ who had risen again.

At the Last Supper, Christ had said to the Apostles: “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). And in today’s Gospel reading we can see how Christ kept His promise, “then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). For us also, Jesus must be, not a figure in a book, not a memory from the past, but rather a living presence, one who is with us here and now. To those who, like Thomas, would argue that this is making too great a demand on our credulity, Christ replies, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29). Faith is like taking a step in the dark while trusting absolutely in what God is promising to us as the consequence.

The resurrection of Christ was a unique happening that lies beyond all human reasoning or understanding. The writer of “the Letter to the Hebrews) says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11:1,3). The first chapter of the Book of Genesis tells us that the universe began in a single flashing act of creation.

The resurrection of Christ, of which we are celebrating the octave, is a mystery also. The risen glorified body of the Lord is a new creation. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. Faith, joy – a faith which leads to and is the cause of joy – that is the message for us today. But there is more. For in our following of Christ, even though we have not as yet passed through the portals of death, we also can become part of this new creation initiated by Christ. We might even begin to speak off a third creation, for by our faith in the saving effect of Christ’s death and resurrection, as Paul tells us, we become something extra (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We are made children of God Himself. We are no longer slaves, but friends, and so on this day we should ask that we may receive and  our joy, like that of the Apostles, may be full (John 16:24).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, pour the living water of the Holy Spirit over my heart, so that I may bear fruit for You. Come, Holy Spirit, and reveal Jesus to my heart today. Let me know the Lord and the power of His resurrection. I want to become a new creation today. Amen.

Jakarta, 21 April 2017 [EASTER OCTAVE: FRIDAY] 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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SET OUR MINDS ON THINGS THAT ARE ABOVE, NOT ON THINGS THAT ARE ON EARTH

SET OUR MINDS ON THINGS THAT ARE ABOVE, NOT ON THINGS THAT ARE ON EARTH

(A biblical refection on EASTER SUNDAY [YEAR A], 16 April 2017) 

One of the various readings at the Easter Sunday: Colossians 3:1-4 

The Scripture Text

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

O, how easy it is to lift our eyes to heaven today! Jesus is risen! He has defeated death, conquered the devil, and disarmed sin! Heaven’s gates have been opened wide for us! Now baptized into Christ, we can share in His victory and walk in our freedom.

Truly, we all should rejoice today, but what about tomorrow? How can we hold on to our Easter joy? Let’s be realistic. We should expect “bumps” in our daily path. Days will come when our minds will seem like a battlefield of temptation and anxiety. But these bumps don’t have to rob us of our inheritance. Grounded in the knowledge that we “have been raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1), we can face the battle directly, and overcome!

Imagine that a co-worker or friend hurts any of us in some way. What will we do? It would be easy to feel deflated, angry, or defensive. But remember that Jesus has raised each and every one of us up with Him. If we keep filling our minds with the truths of God’s love – both for us and for the other person – there will be no room left for resentment or revenge.

Perhaps we feel that the demands for our times are overwhelming. Still, make time for prayer. When we take our eyes off everything we have to do and contemplate heaven instead, we’ll find ourselves better able to keep our tasks in perspective. We may even become more efficient!

Let’s resolve now to let our Easter celebration take deep root in our lives. As the Holy Spirit fills our minds with the reality of what happened on the first Easter Sunday, we will become a “heavenly minded” people, strong, peaceful, and hopeful no matter what our circumstances. We will become living witnesses to the power of the resurrection.

Prayer: Lord Jesus I praise You on the Easter day! You have risen from the dead and overcome sin and death! You have opened heaven for me! I rejoice with all the heavenly host for all You have done! Amen.

Jakarta, 14 April 2017 [GOOD FRIDAY] 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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WE NEED JESUS’ PERFECT SACRIFICE FOR OUR SALVATION

WE NEED JESUS’ PERFECT SACRIFICE FOR OUR SALVATION

(A biblical reflection on PASSION SUNDAY [YEAR A], 9 April 2017) 

Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11 

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalms: Psalm 22:8-9,17-20,23-24; Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:14-27:66 (Matthew 27:11-54) 

The Scripture Text

Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11 RSV) 

If we could have been in the upper room with Jesus during the Last Supper, we would see that Jesus knew. He knew the one who would betray Him. He knew that he would not drink again of the vine. He knew that Simon Peter would deny Him. And yet, when we read the passion, something within us always wishes it had all been different. If only Pilate had known who Jesus was! If only the Pharisees had been more open!

Would we have tried to save Jesus from His fate? Even if all humanity’s blindness could be removed, and we all realized our sinful condition before God, we would still need Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our salvation. Without the gift of the cross, we would be condemned. Reading the passion can help us to reckon with the desperate condition that humankind was, and still is, in.

Jesus was so close to His Father that, although falsely accused and crucified, He forgave His persecutors and bid others not to weep for Him. We may be repulsed by thoughts of Jesus sweating blood and the imminent sense of death He must have felt in Gethsemane. Yet at the same time, we can be filled with gratitude as we recall that He endured all this for us. As the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to Jesus’ passion, our revulsion will be turned on our own sin, knowing that it was because of the darkness within us that Jesus suffered so greatly.

Let’s spend some time today reading the passion, asking the Lord to show each of us His love. Let’s place ourselves in the upper room, or n Gethsemane, or on Calvary. In faith, let’s gaze upon the One who offered His life to win our release. By placing ourselves with Jesus in the midst of these events, we can experience our redemption in a powerful, life-changing way.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, open to us the mystery of Your cross. Help us to empty ourselves, trusting that one day we will be lifted up with You to share in Your unending glory. Amen.

Jakarta, 8 April 2017  

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE

I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE

(A biblical refection on THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR A], 2 April 2017)

 

Gospel Reading: John 11:1-45 (Shorter version: John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45) 

First Reading: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalms: Psalm 130:1-8; Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11 

The Scripture Text

So the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord he whom You love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it He said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.”

Now when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he had been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank Thee  that Thou hast heard me. I knew that Thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that Thou didst send me.” When He had said this, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what He did, believed in him. (John 11:3-7,17, 20-27,33-45 RSV)

Throughout history, human beings have struggled with the problem of pain and suffering but have not come up with many suitable explanations. Thus, we often encourage a sick friend to accept an illness because “It is God’s will”, almost as if we are saying God not only wants us to suffer but also takes some kind of pleasure in seeing us in pain. Today’s Gospel reading gives us reasons to question this way of thinking.

The author of the Gospel according to John provides us with a glimpse of the human side of Jesus when Lazarus, one of Jesus’ close friends, dies. John tells us Jesus was troubled and wept openly upon hearing about Lazarus’ death. Since this is hardly the reaction we would expect from a deity who enjoys seeing people suffer, we can conclude from this story that Jesus is a God who does not like to see His friends in pain. So, let’s stop blaming Him for all the evil in the world and let’s stop telling people who are suffering to accept their pain because “it is God’s will”. It is not God’s will that we suffer and die.

Where, then, does suffering and pain come from? Scripture tells us that pain, the drudgery of work, and death are consequences of sin and did not become part of life until man and woman disobeyed God (see Genesis 3). Since the devil introduced sin into the world, it is the devil, not God, who is responsible for all the pain and suffering we experience.

Finally, in today’s reading, Jesus says He is both the resurrection and the life. This is just one of the seven famous “I am …….” statements we find in John’s Gospel. The other six are: “I am the vine and you are the branches” (15:5) “I am the bread of life”  (6:35) “I am the good shepherd” (10:11,14); “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6); “I am the sheep gate” (10:7); and “”I am the light of the world” (9:5).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I praise You for restoring what was dead in me and for raising me up to new life. Yes, Lord Jesus, I do believe in You. I want to rise with You. Let me know Your presence today. Amen.

Jakarta, 1 April 2017  

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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AM I LIKE THE PHARISEES OR AM I LIKE THE BLIND MAN?

AM I LIKE THE PHARISEES OR AM I LIKE THE BLIND MAN?

(A biblical refection on THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR A] – March 26, 2017) 

Gospel Reading: John 9:1,6-9,13-17,34-38 (longer version: John 9:1-41) 

First Reading: 1Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13; Psalms: Psalm 23:1-6; Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14 

The Scripture Text

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from his birth.

As He said this, He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used and sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened His eyes. The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division among them. So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about Him, since He has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered Him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is He, sir, that I may believe in Him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshipped Him. (John 9:1,6-9,13-17,34-38 RSV)

In first-century Palestine, physicians treated a variety of illnesses with saliva because they believed it had curative powers. In today’s Gospel, Jesus approaches a man who was born blind, spits on the ground, makes a paste of dirt and saliva, and smears this paste on the man’s eyes. After washing off this mixture in the pool of Siloam, the man is able to see.

Some overly legalistic Pharisees objected to what Jesus did because He did it on the Sabbath. Since they considered making paste with saliva and dirt to be work, they interpreted Jesus’ actions as a clear violation of the command to keep the Sabbath holy.

The Pharisees interrogated the man born blind about what had happened, but when the man defended Jesus, they became indignant and accused Him of being a sinner from the moment of his birth. Because people in biblical times did not know about viruses and germs, they believed sin was the cause of all pain and suffering. The Pharisees, therefore, concluded the man was born blind because God was punishing him for something either he or his parents did. He was a sinner, they reasoned, because he had experienced the effects of in from the day he was born.

This story is one of seven miracles reported in the Gospel according to John. Most of these “signs” (that what John calls them) lead into one of the seven discourses or sermons of Jesus we find in this Gospel. Although physical in nature, each miracle also has a spiritual meaning which becomes clear in the discourse that follows it.

Jesus gave sight to the blind man and this individual then preached to those who were spiritually blind (those who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah). Thus, a physical cure set the stage for a teaching about the need for spiritual healing.

The reading ends with Jesus saying He came to divide the world and that some people will be blind because of Him while others will regain their sight. In the original Greek language of the Gospels, Jesus clearly is not talking about the purpose of His mission but rather about its effect. There will divisions because some people will believe in Jesus and others won’t. Some of those considered spiritually blind will see Jesus as their Messiah while the respected spiritual leaders will not accept Him. Historically, that’s exactly what happened.

Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels, pages 26-27.

Short Prayer: Jesus, You are my Lord and Savior. Forgive me Jesus, because sometimes – like the Pharisees – I believe that I am spiritually superior to others. Today’s Gospel tells me that I should be like the blind man who needed You instead. Lord, please heal all aspects of my blindness, so I can serve God and my neighbors with genuine love according to His commandments. Amen. 

Jakarta, 25 March 2017 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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JESUS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD UNWANTED PEOPLE

JESUS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD UNWANTED PEOPLE

(A biblical reflection on THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR A], 19 March 2017) 

Gospel Reading: John 4:5-42 

First Reading: Exodus 17:3-7; Psalms: Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; Second Reading: Romans 5:1-2,5-8 

The Scripture Text

So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as He was with His journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered Him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” The woman said Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and You say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when He comes, He will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Just then His disciples came. They marvelled that He was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do You wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to Him.

Meanwhile the disciples besought Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought Him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His words. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:5-42 RSV)

In today’s Gospel reading, a Samaritan woman is surprised when Jesus asks her to give Him a drink of water from Jacob’s well. The reason for her surprise needs to be explained.

After King Solomon died, the land of the Jews divided into two separate kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south, with each kingdom having its own king, its own army, and its own capital. The capital in the northern kingdom was Samaria and the capital of the southern kingdom was Jerusalem, the city where the Jewish Temple was located. Citizens of both kingdoms visited the Temple because it was only place where the Jews could offer sacrifices to God.

In 721 B.C., the Assyrians attacked and conquered the Jews of the northern kingdom and took all able-bodied Jewish men, women, and children into exile. Assyrians immigrated to the northern kingdom and some of them converted to Judaism after marrying Jewish woman. Because these Assyrian/Jewish couples lived in Samaria, we call their children Samaritans.

Since the Samaritans were only half Jewish and were descendants of the Assyrians, the Jews in the southern kingdom despised them and even called them dogs.

Because of their mutual dislike, Jews and Samaritans normally did not talk to each other and some rabbis even went so far as to teach that Jews who passed through Samaritan territory should shake dust from their feet before entering Jewish lands so Jewish soil would not be contaminated with Samaritan dust.

Since the Jewish religious leaders did not allow them to offer sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed it was the only place sacrifices could be legitimately offered to God. Gerizim is the mountain the woman refers to in today’s reading (John 4:20).

Finally, because first-century Palestinian Judaism was a male-dominated religion, some Jewish men thanked God every morning they were not females, and the rabbis occasionally debated if women had souls. The social customs of the time even frowned on a Jewish man speaking to a woman in public. When you consider all of this, it’s easy to understand why the Samaritan woman was surprised Jesus talked to her.

(Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels, San Jose, CA: Resource Publications, Inc., 1992, pages 24-25)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in our society there are also unwanted people, others don’t want to associate with. Thank you Lord Jesus for today’s Gospel. Here, You give us the example of the correct attitude toward these people. Jesus, today I invite You to be the Lord of my life. I will leave behind my old water jar, my old ways of seeking fulfilment. I seek You instead. Fill me with Your living water today so that I will never thirst again. Amen.

Jakarta, 19 March 2017 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT [YEAR A] – 12 March 2017) 

Gospel Reading: Matthew 17:1-9 

First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalms: Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20,22; Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8b-10 

The Scripture Text

And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if You wish, I will make three booths here, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no on but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9 RSV) 

Spiritual journey is a common expression used to refer to one’s religious life. From the French language, jour (day), it describes one’s daily progress in walking with the Lord and each other as a woman or man of faith. The word “journal”, also from the same root, means a daily record of events. Each person’s journey is unique and must always be treated as such. We have different times of beginning and ending, and a lifetime of varieties in between. The important similarity of all journeys is that we move through life according to the same measured pace of time. We know that change is inevitable and that we are subject to it, willingly or otherwise.

We can appreciate the unwavering faith of Abraham in the first reading, as he obeys the call of his God to leave behind his father’s house and native land, to journey into the uncharted future, into a totally new type of life. We increase our admiration when we realize that he was 75 years old at that time.

Abraham is for us an inspiring model of faith, who was willing to trust God completely by letting go of earthly securities, as he ventured out of what is currently Iraq to Palestine. There, he was given a new name and became the father of a new nation and a new religion. Because of Abraham, we should never say or even think that we are too old to make a change for the better.

Another type of spiritual journey occurs in today’s Gospel, in the lives of three chosen apostles. They climb up a high mountain with the Master and, once on top, soar into ecstasy as they behold the transfigured Savior conversing with Moses and Elijah. Their doubts are for the time being removed, for they have seen the glory of the Lord. It was a mystical journey into the brilliance of paradise.

God promises this same reward to any of us willing to abandon the safe place and familiar faces for a faith-filled journey into the night of the unknown. An act of simple trust is the first step that will bring us face to face with the transfigured Jesus.

The season of Lent is a constant reminder of our invitation from the Master to always seek the better life. We hear the Church reassuring all pilgrim people that their efforts are far outweighed by the divine glory to be gained. The stories presented in today’s liturgy are not meant to glorify Abraham or the Apostles, but to make us believe that these grace-filled adventures can also be ours. Our journeys can all have happy endings, provided we are willing to venture forth each day with trusting faith.

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, from Your transfiguration, You teach me that my spiritual journey can have a happy ending, provided I am willing to venture forth each day with an unwavering and trusting faith in You. Amen.

Jakarta, 10 March 2016 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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