Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Resurrection Gifts

Luke 24:36b-48

Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ...Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Here are a few things, as we read and meditate on this encounter, that  Jesus gives as gifts to his startled and fearful disciples. These, we also need in our lives of faith!
1. Jesus Gives Them Peace 
 The apostles had lost their teacher the man they loved, admired and for whom they had high hopes! They were  sad, confused about what they had believed and facing an uncertain future. They were gathered behind closed doors fearful for their own lives. Jesus enters and gives them a greeting of Peace!  This is not the first time they have heard him say these words to them in a moment of uncertainty and fear.
John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!"

Many times in our lives we will be in need of what Jesus offered his disciples. St. Paul speaking to Christians in an uncertain  world, reminds them of the peace that is given to us as a gift from God!
Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus..."
And then there is this beauty from the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 26:3  "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you..."

I need this gift of peace, the words of Christ in my heart and mind that bring quiet to my wandering thoughts! Peace be with us!
2.     Jesus Gives Them Proof

I LOVE THIS TEXT…it reminds us that it was not just Thomas the doubter who required proof…the rest of the Apostles were in the same boat…! Jesus understood this and asked them to touch him! See that it is me, he said! He proceeded to eat roasted fish with them! He persuaded them, gave them proof of his resurrection!  

This is what St. Paul writes...

1 Corinthians 15:3-7  " For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that he appeared to Cephas,and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep, Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also"  
Do we still need proof of the resurrection, of the existence of God?

The apostles certainly thought so! Throughout the book of Acts they point to supernatural healings, to transformed lives credited to the name of Jesus! St Paul in the book of Romans pointed to creation itself as proof of God’s existence! He also speaks convincingly of his own encounter of the living Christ in a road to Damascus, an encounter that transformed him from a persecutor of Christians, to a preacher of the faith!  

In 1998, Lee Strobel, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a graduate of Yale Law School, published "The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.”  Strobel had formerly been an atheist and was compelled by his wife’s conversion to evangelical Christianity to refute the key Christian claims about Jesus! He ended up a convert to Christ.   

Do we also have stories to tell?  Stories of answered prayers, of moments of communion, of changes in our lives and those of our loved ones because of Jesus?   Through our very lives God's gives proof of His love and power to save!

3.      Jesus gives them a preview

"...Look at me a ghost has no bones like I do…! 

Do you wonder what will happen after death, besides going to heaven, or to the presence of God? What is this resurrection of the body we recite weekly in the Creeds? Isn't the body just a vehicle for my true self, or perhaps a source of temptation and death? Some have thought so! Yet it was God who created our physical bodies and The Word himself who took upon himself our humanity, our physicality in the incarnation!  
We who have been promised eternal life, who speak of a resurrection of the body have to wonder….how will it be? The Corinthian Christians sure wondered!

1 Corinthians 15:35 "...But someone may ask, "How will the dead be raised? ...and with what body do they  come?
St. Paul answers with these wonderful and mysterious words: 
1 Corinthians 15:42-46  "... So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body..."

St. John,  present on the night Jesus appeared to his disciples and bade them touch him, offers us these thoughts:                
1 John 3:2 "...Beloved, we are already God's children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is..." 

What if Jesus's resurrected body is a preview of what awaits us for eternity?  If so, I for one will not be eating any fish then...it is carbs for me!
 4.  Jesus Gives Them Perspective

He opens their minds, he lets them understand Scripture and what is written there about him!  How many times do we need our minds to be open, our understanding renewed as we read Scripture or wonder about a spiritual question?
The apostles, disciples and just about all in Judea who looked to Jesus as the promised Messiah, were waiting for a political figure! They waited for one who would free them from Roman rule, restore the Davidic kingdom and bring vengeance on their enemies! Some of his followers even argued as to who would be the first among them, and who would have the privilege of being at his right and left side! They needed a change in perspective, to have a clearer understanding of Scripture and of the person and message of Christ! He gave them a new vision, changed they perspective about God and his kingdom! 

That gift is one that we all need as we navigate our lives of faith in a rapidly changing world, and for us this promise and gift of Christ stands!

"...The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you..." 

5. Jesus Gives Them Purpose

To these ragtag group of people that he finds hiding in a house, full or regret, misgivings and fear Jesus gives a greater purpose! There is a message of hope, of life beyond the grave, of repentance,  of forgiveness! You will be my witnesses!

Their voices and message carried through millennia and now has become our own! Jesus lives, God forgives...go and tell!!



Thursday, March 1, 2018

Apartate de Mi, Satanas!

“…Jesús comenzó a enseñarles que el Hijo del hombre tendría que sufrir mucho, y que sería rechazado por los ancianos, por los jefes de los sacerdotes y por los maestros de la ley. Les dijo que lo iban a matar, pero que resucitaría a los tres días. Entonces Pedro lo llevó aparte y comenzó a reprenderlo. 33 Pero Jesús se volvió, miró a los discípulos y reprendió a Pedro, diciéndole: —¡Apártate de mí, Satanás! Tú no ves las cosas como las ve Dios, sino como las ven los hombres…”  Marcos 8:31-33

Jesus habla a sus discipulos acerca de su sufrimiento y muerte provocando una reaccion predecible. La mayoria de ellos no dicen ni pio, se quedan con sus dudas y preguntas pero con temor a hablar. Pedro llama a Jesus aparte y le reprende…No digas mas esas cosas!!! Podemos enteder ambas actitudes!

A veces nos es dificil confrontar algo que no entendemos o con lo que no estamos de acuerdo, pasa en nuestras vidas y en la Iglesia. Cuantas veces nos quedamos sin preguntar algo que no entendemos? Cuantas veces se dice en una reunion spiritual, lo que no nos edifica o algo que hayamos incorrecto, pero por pena o temor callamos? 

Pedro nos da un ejemplo distinto a este. Escucha a Jesus, le oye decir cosas que de seguro eran, para el,  problematicas, tan negativas. Quien no se turba al oir de los labios de un amigo las palabras rechazo, traicion , sufrimiento, muerte?  Lo comprendemos, quizas hubieramos hecho lo mismo movidos por la amistad o el amor, y con las mejores intenciones!

La respuesta de Jesus es sorprendente, lejos de dar gracias a Pedro por su preocupacion y consejo le reprende, le llama Satanas o adversario! Sus palabras le aclaran a Pedro y a nosotros el porque de esta reaccion inesperada; “Tu no ves las cosas como las ve Dios sino como la ven los hombres”  o segun otra traduccion “…no te importan las cosas que le importan a Dios, sino lo que e simpportante para la gente..”.

No sera que hacemos esto muchas veces en nuestra propia vida? No sera que al mirar una situacion particular, al considerar a las personas que comparten nuestra vida al planear para nuestro futuro,   al aconsejar a alguien y en miles de circustancias de la vida cotidiana, dejamos a Dios a un lado? No sera que, Pedro y nosotros, sufrimos de cierta ceguera espiritual, o quizas de descuido, y que a veces confundimos los prejuicios y deseos de nuestro propio corazon con lo que Dios ve, lo que a El le interesa, lo que El desea, lo que a El le agrada?

Vaya que lecciones de esta porcion del evangelio en este Segundo domingo de Cuaresma! Una exortacion, una cautela a no quedarnos en silencio con nuestras dudas y preguntas, pero tambien a no pensar y hablar con demasiada rapidez. 

Me parece que pudieramos aplicar esta leccion del evangelio como una invitacion a dialogar con Dios y con nosotros mismos!  Que sera lo que le interesa a Dios en esta situacion? Que ve Dios en la vida de esta persona? Que esta haciendo Dios en esta situacion la cual yo no entiendo?  

Que Dios por su palabra y su Espiritu nos ayude e illumine a cada vez mas considerar e interesarnos por lo que Dios ve, lo que Dios piensa, lo que a El le importa! 

“..Sean gratos los dichos de mi boca y la meditación de mi corazón delante de ti,
Oh Jehová, roca mía, y redentor mío…”  Salmo 19:14 



Saturday, November 4, 2017

Happenstance or Homophobia...?

I could not help but laugh at this confluence of signs in an Atlanta street. It is either an unfortunate coincidence, a funny happenstance, evidence of a problem or lack of cultural sensitivity. I wonder if any gay men go to that church? Or anyone who saw that Al Pacino movie...????
Okay guys...come to church here but...no cruising.  



Friday, October 27, 2017

Happy Friday....

Well, I do not think I will miss you despite having your constant company for over 20 years. Don't come back!!!! Adios, no te voy a echar de menos a pesar de tenerte por constante compañero por tantos años...no vuelvas!!!