Going Back

Friday of the Octave of Easter: John 21:1-14

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus was once quoted as saying, “You can’t step into the same river twice”. For one thing, a river is always moving and, therefore, always changing. By the time you step into it again, it isn’t quite the same river. Then again, when you step into the river a second time, you aren’t the same you. Our minds and bodies are also moving, changing, learning from experience, maturing and aging.

Yet, we often feel the desire to step into some old river a second time. Some married couples may celebrate an anniversary by going back to some place that was significant early in their relationship. People often return to their high schools or colleges for reunions, or just to see what the place looks like now and to recall some events. Others who have moved far from their birthplaces may feel a desire to go back for a visit, for the same reasons.  Continue reading “Going Back”

The Resurrection and the Life

Fifth Sunday of Lent: John 11:1-45

Following the old maxim “Better late than never”, here is a reflection for today’s readings. It was delayed because of an ‘episode’ I had over the last couple of days. I agreed to do two funerals this week, which I knew was a dangerous thing for me, with Holy Week approaching and my “people energy” already low. Yesterday, after the second funeral, I had what people on the autism spectrum know as a meltdown.

For some, a meltdown is a very obvious experience. They will lose all control, rant, throw things, even hurt themselves or others (unintentionally). For me, a meltdown is all internal. Very little of it reaches the surface. In fact, only a small portion of my emotional world reaches the surface, especially when I am with other people. Here is a reliable rule: if you detect the slightest hint of an emotional reaction in me, or if I ever say something like “I’m tired” or “I feel stressed”, you can always safely move the decimal point at least two places to the right in order to obtain the strength of the emotions I am actually experiencing at the moment.  Continue reading “The Resurrection and the Life”

The One

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent : Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47

“There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown; and those like Master Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I’m their tiger; there’s a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves. And then there’s you.” King Henry VIII to Sir Thomas More, A Man For All Seasons

We Westerners like to think of ourselves as mature people who can think and choose for ourselves. We may bristle at the thought of someone else interfering in our lives. We believe that being a leader is better than being a follower. If you can’t be a leader, then at least be a rebel or a misfit. See how often the rebel becomes the hero in action movies.  Continue reading “The One”

Light and Judgment

Fourth Sunday of Lent (A): John 9:1-41

“Jesus said, ‘I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.'” – John 9:39

Needless to say, light is most useful. It enables us to see our surroundings, locate objects that we wish to take (or walk around), and recognize people we meet. Light helps us see the results of our work. However, light also helps us see any mistakes we have made. It shows us dust that we failed to clean up. It shows signs of aging on our faces. Light imposes no judgment on us; it merely shows us what is. Judgment, in this context, is how we respond to what the light shows us. Do we accept what we see: the flaws, for example, in our faces and bodies? Are we willing to act based on what we see: by cleaning up the dust, for example, or putting out the trash? In these cases, we pass judgment on ourselves, based on what we do with what the light shows us. Our choices reveal our true values. They show who – or what – we serve.  Continue reading “Light and Judgment”

The Bridegroom at the Well

Third Sunday of Lent (A): John 4:5-42

I’ve always enjoyed word play. Puns, crosswords, cryptograms, Scrabble –  just about any game involving words. Psychologists tell us that people on the autism spectrum tend to like word play even more than people in general. Puns and word games come standard with us Aspies, so to speak!

But we’re not alone. The Bible is filled with examples of puns and word play. Very often, the naming of a person or place involves a play on words. Adam, on seeing Eve: “This one shall be called ‘woman’, for from ‘her man’ this one has been taken”. In Hebrew, ‘woman’ and ‘her man’ sound almost the same. Jesus, to Simon: “You are ‘Peter’, and upon ‘this rock’ I will build my church.”  Again, ‘Peter’ and ‘this rock’ sound almost the same in the original. John, writing out of a rich Biblical tradition, will also use plays on words as a means to draw out deeper meanings. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “You must be born ‘again’.” In Greek, the word translated as ‘again’ can also mean ‘from above’, depending on context. Nicodemus objects, understanding the word in its usual, literal ‘again’ meaning. Jesus then explains further, using the meaning ‘from above’. The Biblical authors used puns and word play not merely because they may have enjoyed it. It served a purpose. It is a reminder that they are writing about realities that cannot be adequately expressed in words. To show this, the Biblical authors used word play to show the reader that there is always more to life, and to God, than we might assume at first glance. Word play is an invitation to “come and see”, to go deeper.   Continue reading “The Bridegroom at the Well”