Pondering for Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalms 26 and 28; PM Psalms 36 and 39:
Isaiah 44:9 to 20Ephesians 4:17 to 32Mark 3:19b to 35

“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3: 29 and 30)

Is our Lord Jesus saying that there is, after all, a limit to forgiveness?  So I look at this state of affairs as, “once we know, we can’t un-know.” Once we have experienced the holy presence of God, in Christ Jesus, or any divine manifestation, we move to certain knowledge beyond belief.

One of my friends in my Cursillo Reunion Group shared a quote from Richard Rohr, (American author, spiritual writer, and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico), who said that he no longer believes in Jesus because he now “knows” Jesus. We often get confused about what we know and what we believe.  A few weeks ago a young woman in New York City “knew” a certain young man took her cell phone.  As it turned out, she left her phone in a car and the driver returned it later.  My point is that sometimes what we think we know, in reality, we only believe. At one point we believed the earth was flat, now we know it’s round.  We all really need to figure out a way to discern what we believe from what we know.

I find it somewhat spooky that our readings for today reference the requirement for respect for the Holy Spirit of God.  From our Gospel according to Mark, and our Ephesians’ reading for today, we are cautioned not to blaspheme or grieve the Holy Spirit.  To blaspheme is to curse or profane someone or something.  I think it is one thing to blaspheme what we think we believe. However, when God has blessed us with a glimmer of grace to the point that we know, that is, we actually experience the Holy, to then turn against such an experience is unforgivable. This is what I think our Lord Jesus meant.

As humanity, we are created in the Spiritual Image of our Creator.  For Christians, at baptism, we are marked as Christ’s own forever!  Therefore, as Paul writes to the Ephesians, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4: 30)

I have learned from the Gospel of John that God is, in fact, Spirit. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) So what is truth? The earth is round, not flat, that is a truth.  Even Pontius Pilate asked our Lord Jesus, what is truth? (John 18:38)  So here is truth: God is, and God loves us.  This is truth that supersedes belief, and takes us to that heavenly realm of knowing that must never, never, never be denied or blasphemed.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Monday, January 18, 2021

Part 1 of 2:

Daily Office Readings for Monday of the 2nd Week of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalm 25; PM Psalm 9 and 15:
Isaiah 44:6 to 8 and 21 to 23Ephesians 4:1 to 16; Mark 3:7 to 19:

“He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” (The Message Bible: Ephesians 4: within verses 7 to 13)

I particularly referenced the “Message Bible” for this passage because it affirms my understanding that the Pastor-Teacher gift is one gift that has the twin focal points of pastor and teacher.

To be pastor is to be listener and counselor. It is to be a spiritual guide to those who are seeking a stronger connection to the Almighty.

To be teacher is to be a leader and one who shows the how-to’s of life. It is also one who shows the when-to’s of life. It is the teaching of the proper time for all things.

To be pastor – teacher then, is to be one who listens, counselors and instructs in the methods and circumstances of proper, moral, and godly behavior.

Part 2 of 2

Eucharistic Readings for the Confession of St. Peter: January 18: 
Acts 4:8 to 13Psalm 231st  Peter 5:1 to 4Matthew 16:13 to 19 

“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’  And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15 to 17)

There are two points here to understand. First, we must deal with who we say Jesus is. We say this by the way we, as Christians, conduct ourselves. Being a follower is more than just saying it.

The other point is that, like Peter, we don’t know Jesus by our own intellect, but rather, it is God’s revelation to us. We don’t figure out God or Jesus. God shares with us as God wills. We just pray and hope. If we persevere, God will touch us.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Sunday, January 17, 2021

Part 1 of 2:

Daily Office Readings for Sunday of the 2nd Week of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalms 148, 149, 150; PM Psalms 114 and 115;
Isaiah 43:14 to 44:5Hebrews 6:17 to 7:10John 4:27 to 42:

“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”  (Isaiah 43: 18 and 19)

This, “doing something new,” has been true before time and remains the constant of God.  The Israelites had no way of knowing that God was going to create an escape from the Egyptian forces through the sea.  No one knew God was going to come and be with us, (Emanuel), by being born a vulnerable infant. Now that we know that God is full of surprises, can we be prepared?  I doubt it.

What is God doing new, right now, in our presence?  Do you not perceive it?

Part 2 of 2:

Eucharistic Readings for the 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany: Year B:

1st  Samuel 3:1 to 20); Psalm 139:1 to 5 and  12-17; 1st Corinthians 6:12 to 20; John 1:43 to 51;

“Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” (John 1:48)

I have often pondered about what was going on with Nathanael under the fig tree.  Was he praying? Was he in a deep state of darkness?  Was God revealing something to him at that time?  We will probably never know, that is, until we get to meet Nathanael in the next life.

Our Psalm for today is perfect for personal reflection: “Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”  (Psalm139:1) 

The message for us is that our Lord Jesus knows us even before we are called to Him. So our response is like that of Nathanael, “Teacher, you are truly the Son of God.”

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Saturday, January 16, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Saturday of the 1st Week of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalms 20, 21:1-7; PM Psalms 110:1to5, 116,and 117;
Isaiah 43:1 to 13Ephesians 3:14 to 21Mark 2:23 to 3:6:

“Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”  (Mark 2: 27 and 28)

This has new meaning for me after reading “Sabbath” by Abraham Joshua Heshel. Our time is way more important than all the things we could ask for. 

I am reminded that God created time and then us within time. And lastly, it is a special day within time as a gift to us, for us to rest with God.  For me, the Sabbath may not even be a time for worship, but just to rest and allow contemplation to take place.

When someone gives us a gift, that gift becomes our own possession. We do with it what we please. The giver may or may not be pleased if we put his or her gift in the garage never to be seen again until we decide to have a yard sale.  But the gift was ours. I am not Jewish in the traditional sense. But I am a “Judeo-Christian.” Our Lord Jesus kept his Jewish traditions throughout his life. Let me share with you the meaning of the Sabbath from a You Tube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjmjZWHXKFY

For me, keeping the Sabbath does not mean worshiping on the Sabbath. Worship is work, at least for clergy and worship support people.  We Christians should keep the first day of the week, (Sunday) as our worship day.

I have lived for over 72 years not realizing how important the Sabbath is. But thanks be to God, I have not, and could not “sale” my Sabbath. It is a gift from God and I intend to live into it more reverently going forward. This will be an adjustment over time. I am also remembering that while the Rest of God came after the creation of humanity, the restfulness that is found in the Sabbath is shared with humanity as an opportunity to be with God our Creator.  We were not made for the Sabbath, but rather, the Sabbath was made by God, for God, and yet shared with humanity as gift. We have choices. We can ignore the Sabbath, or we can live into it.  I now choose the latter. It is never too late for the revelation of God, Thank You Lord Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Friday, January 15, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Friday of the 1st Week of Epiphany 2021: Year 1

AM Psalms 16 and 17; PM Psalm 22;
Isaiah 42:1 to 17Ephesians3:1 to 13Mark 2:13 to 22 

“Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power.”  (Ephesians 3:7)

For some reason the words, “Of this gospel I have become a servant,” has caused me to ponder.  I ponder that the word Gospel literally means, “Good News.”  So Paul has become a servant of the Good News.

Normally to receive Good News on the television, by people who bring us the news, I have to watch it to the very end, and if I am lucky, the anchor will share something, something charming or wonderful, Good News. Such anchors are servants of whatever news that they are given to report.  Paul, on the other hand, has volunteered to be a servant of only the Good News of God in Christ Jesus.

So how would you or I go about being the servant of the Good News?  Such servanthood requires us to bring positivity to people who may not see anything to be happy about.  And we must remember, we are not necessarily the servant of the people to whom we are bringing the Gospel to, but the Gospel itself.  We then are servants of the Gospel – the Good News.

This means we must be servants of an idea, a faith, a hope.  We are called to be servants of the idea of love and forgiveness.  We are servants of the idea of our Lord Jesus bringing us into eternal life. It is this Gospel which we escort to people as our master, There is the ideal and the real.  But you and I can align the real with the ideal in our Gospel of love and hope, and faith, and Good News. It’s hard work.  Some people don’t want to be happy.  But we are not servants to them; we are servants to the Gospel.  We take the Gospel to them.  God then takes it from there.  Paul says, this is “the gift of God’s grace that was given to [us] by the working of his power.”

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Thursday, January 14, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Thursday of the 1st Week of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalm 18:1 to 20; PM Psalm 18:21 to 50;
Isaiah 41:17 to 29Ephesians 2:11 to 22Mark 2:1 to 12:

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”  (Ephesians 2:14)

At this writing our nation is going through a tumultuous time.  All fifty State capitals are threatened with violence during the inauguration of soon to be President Joe Biden on January 20th.  The divisiveness is more than just democrat against republican. It seems it is about race, and who is loyal to the outgoing President Donald Trump and who is not.  We could sure use some Jesus right now.

It seems we have a dividing wall that separates us from our neighbor, our brothers and sisters. There is hostility between us.  My prayer is that we calm down and listen to what our hearts are saying to us.  Paul says that Jesus is our peace.  He says that, “in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall.”  Somehow, I still fill like the wall is there.  Perhaps not everybody has heard about what Jesus has done, and is doing. We are one group now.  There is no separation anymore.  Whatever the issues are, we should be able to come to some kind of consensus, and perhaps, enlightenment.  

In Christ Jesus we must realize we are all one in Christ. We should not want to win at the expense of others. Is there a way we can be satisfied with enough while at the same time, those who have a different opinion, may also be satisfied with enough?  We all make up the body of Christ Jesus.  And the body of our Lord Jesus does not have cancer or Covid. We will live!

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of the 1st Week of Epiphany: Year1

AM Psalm 119:1 to 24; PM Psalms 12, 13 and 14
Isaiah 41:1 to 16Ephesians 2:1 to 10Mark 1:29 to 45 

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

There are so many deeds that Jesus can do that you and I cannot.  Except for medical doctors, most of us cannot heal others.  It seems also to be very hard for some of us to forgive (or love) some people.  Some of us have been blessed with the gift of teaching but not with the authority that our Lord Jesus wielded, Thank you Lord Jesus. Few of us, if any of us, can cast out demons. But here is what we can do; we can all find a place to pray.

Jesus’ getting up and going off to a place to pray is definitely something we can all do, and, I think, we all should do. Copying Jesus’ habit of praying, or even Sabbath praying, may even lead to more Jesus-like abilities. Praying doesn’t have to be beautifully articulated words of perfection.

I recall the story of the little shepherd boy who prayed as he watched the sheep. In his little prayers he prayed whatever came to his mind.  As I recall, he prayed thus: “Dear Jesus, If you were cold I would give you my coat. If you were hungry I would share my food with you, if you were real hungry you could have all my food.”  As the old story goes, a priest was passing by and heard the boy praying. The priest interrupted the boy and schooled him on the “proper” way to pray. After the priest’s lecture the little shepherd boy felt so bad, he quit praying all together.  Missing the boy’s regular prayers, God sent an angel to see what happened. The boy explained how he was told that he wasn’t doing it right and the angel asked, “Who told you that.”  I don’t know how the angel handled the priest but the angel assured the boy that God loved, and missed, his prayers and wanted him to continue.  The boy did.

This is a nice little story from a long time ago.  The point is, like our Lord Jesus and the little shepherd boy, prayer is not done from training, but rather, prayer is our being trained by doing.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of the 1st Week of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalm 18:1 to 20; PM Psalm 18:21 to 50;
Isaiah 41:17 to 29Ephesians 2:11 to 22Mark 2:1to 12

“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.” (Ephesians 2:17 to 19)

I ponder these words of Paul as he writes to the Church in Ephesus.  He is also writing to us today.  To have a spirit of wisdom and revelation from God is the most blessed gift any human could ever receive.  With the “eyes or our hearts enlightened,” we will see our course in life more clearly. I know that this is true for me.

I am on a journey now to go back to school and focus on young childhood education. This new course in my life came to me as it was revealed through both close friends, and even store counter clerks.  This is the way God drops hints of revelation.

How do you see a new course in your life?  It could be shifting in direction for you.  Are you listening to what different people bring to you?  Are you looking with the eyes of your heart?  Are you listening with the ears of your heart? God is still giving us the spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know God, so that, with the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we may know what is the hope, to which God is calling us.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Monday, January 11, 2021

Daily Office Readings for Monday of the 1st Week of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalms 1, 2 and  3; PM Psalms 4 and 7;   
Isaiah 40:12 to 23Ephesians 1:1 to 14Mark 1:1 to 13 

“All the nations are as nothing before him; they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.”  (Isaiah 40:17)

Nations themselves, are a human construct built upon an earth given to creation to support life.  That we have carved it up into sections of ownership for the purposes of caring for some at the expense of others is something we are going to have to deal with when we stand before the Great Throne,

Before the nations, God created the heavens and the stars and the planets. God called all life into being which means God called into being the heavens, the stars and the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth our island home. And God called it into being from nothing. God reached into nothingness and brought about our existence.  Our putting up governments and regulating resources means nothing to God until we reject others in the process of our self-serving and greedy aspirations. Such actions tend to get God’s negative attention – and believe me, we don’t want that.

However, when we, as nations or as individuals, come together to care for creatures, human and animals and the planet, we receive God’s favor. While nations, “are as nothing before him,” loving works are everlasting before God. Let us take care of one another, even those we don’t always agree with. Emptiness and nothingness are trying to reclaim us. Let us use love and caring in order to continue into eternity with our loving Creator.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

Pondering for Sunday, January 10, 2021

Part 1 of 2

Daily Office Readings for the Week after the First Sunday of Epiphany: Year 1

AM Psalms 146 and 147; PM Psalms  111, 112, and 113:
Isaiah 40:1 to 11Hebrews 1:1 to 12John 1:1 to 7, 19 to 20 and 29 to 34

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1 to 5)

This Gospel according to John begins as does Genesis.  Genesis speaks of luminous light; John speaks of moral light. Even a blind person can see and understand morality, that is, what is the right and loving thing to do, and so can you.

Part 2 of 2

Eucharistic Readings for this First Sunday after the Epiphany; Year B

Genesis 1:1 to 5Psalm 29Acts 19:1 to 7Mark 1:4 to 11;

“God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1:5)

This is our opening of the Book of Genesis. It speaks of Sunday as the First Day of the week in which the week to come is brought into light. I notice that from the beginning we start with seeing the light of morning through the preceding evening night.  The week leads to a Sabbath Day, a day of rest and peace, a gift from God – a gift that our Lord Jesus recognized also.  This is our Lord Jesus who is the moral light of the world. His Light is, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

Be it Genesis or John, God wins, every time. We have choices. We can choose to be temporal, or we can accept God’s invitation to eternal life through the same eternal Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Thank You Lord Jesus.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John