Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Penultimate Holy Day

Tomorrow we enter the Holy Days of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, the Morning Prayer readings are very helpful for the preparation for those days. It is important to get focus. A brief word on each and its connection to Jesus
Psalm 55
A heartfelt prayer of someone in need, it is an ideal psalm in times of duress. Of particular interest for us is verses 11 to 15, which reflect on the "trouble and misery" inside the city walls. "There is corruption at her heart" reflects the reality in Jesus day (as well as the psalmist's). The powerful of Jerusalem, in league with Roman oppressors, did what they always do, take care of themselves at the expense of the weak and poor. We can almost hear Jesus saying the next words looking at Judas. I paraphrase, "If an outsider or enemy betrayed me it would be different, but we were friends, studying and praying together..." Verse 21 returns to the theme of betrayal and the extra pain it causes. Mixed in are references to God's fidelity. Sadly, we are all victims of betrayal, but also perpetrators. Thankfully, God is merciful and faithful.
Jeremiah 17:5-10, 14-17
"Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals" Jeremiah begins. The cursing/blessing which we find in Jeremiah echoes Deuteronomy. The parallels to Psalm 1 are also obvious, examples of the "two ways" of life and death. We need only look at our lives to see what our choices produce. There is one particular verse, however, which echoes the Fourth Gospel, where Jesus, we read, did not trust Himself to anyone because He knew what was in the heart of humankind. Jeremiah writes: "The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse--who can understand it?" Harsh words indeed, but who among us can claim a pure and holy heart? It is why the Lord will "test the mind and search the heart." It recalls God's word to Samuel recently, that He does not see as humans do, He sees within the person. As we see Jesus on the cross, dying for our sins, it is a heart thing. It is about our hearts. Jesus on the cross is an answer to the prayer of Jeremiah in the latter verses today. "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved; for you are my praise." It is about God, as well as us, it is a mercy thing! As we kneel Friday, are these not words worthy of repetition before our Lord?
Philippians 4:1-13
One of my favorite verses is found here. "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice...The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything (pray with thanksgiving)" Paul exhorts us to focus on good and noble things and to trust the Lord, for we can do all things in His strength. The unsurpassable love of God is manifest in the Incarnation of Jesus. God with us, God for us--fear not for all will be well. Looking at Him, nailed up there, is an excellent frame of reference in looking at my own worries and concerns.
John 12:27-36
The Fourth Gospel tends to portray Jesus' strength and authority during the passion. However, here we do get insight into the very human struggle He endured. "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say?" Jesus says that He cannot ask the Father to save Him from this hour because it is for this hour that He has come. So Jesus says, "Father glorify your Name." Everyone is called to glorify God and each of us is troubled in the struggles of life. We are in darkness (Jesus says), called to be children of light, called not to stumble but to walk in His light. Yet, He warns the disciples, the light will not always be with us. One might say that this is still true. Jesus' light shines among us, but it can be muted. He does not reign among us as King totally. "now the ruler of this world will be driven out." Jesus implies that God is not the ruler of this world. The cross and resurrection are the victory of God, but the enemy continues to rule (for a time). We, you and I, must not only meditate on the cross and resurrection of Jesus, we must open our hearts to the resurrection power, even as, here and now, we suffer our own crosses. The Satan is still bold and active spreading darkness. We are the light (in Jesus) sent into combat until the Last Day when victory (now assured) is finalized.

There is much more to pray over or ponder. God's word is rich, but I hope this helps in your own meditation and prayer.

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