Seeing, Listening and Believing

Second Sunday of Lent (A): Matthew 17:1-9

The Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Lent has traditionally been the account of the Transfiguration. It is fascinating to read commentaries written by Biblical scholars on this Gospel reading. Some scholars from some faith traditions twist themselves in exegetical knots trying to relate a story that no one can take literally (so they say) to the experience of contemporary Christians. If one can’t prove it scientifically, or relate to it experientially, what does one do with it (so they ask)? These same scholars also struggle with the Resurrection of Jesus, for the same reasons. And not only some Biblical scholars. Nicholas Kristof, a columnist for the New York Times, writes here of a conversation he had with Rev. Timothy Keller over whether he (Kristof) is really a Christian. One of Kristof’s stumbling points was a belief in the Resurrection of Jesus.  He would have similar objections to the account of the Transfiguration, no doubt.

The difficulty here lies, at least in part, in how we think of science and faith. Our culture usually views people of faith as far too credulous, believing in things that cannot be proven – whereas, our culture sees itself as based on science and firmly founded on fact.  Continue reading “Seeing, Listening and Believing”

Preparing for Lent

Here we are. Mardi Gras. Shrove Tuesday. The eve of Lent, so to speak.

The question may arise: “What shall I do for Lent?” Typically, it becomes a question of what enjoyable thing we will give up, or what worthy thing we will add to our lives during Lent. Giving something up, or adding something on, can be a very good thing to do. It reminds us that there is something different about this season, something which calls forth a change from within us.

But what change? What is the goal of Lent? What is its purpose? What can help us live this season fruitfully?

There are many helpful resources out there that can assist us in living Lent well. Most parishes will offer one or more of these resources, or recommend others. Many of us have our own Lenten traditions in place. But what is Lent all about? Getting a clearer sense of this can assist us in choosing traditions and practices that will help us live in harmony with the season, and open ourselves to what the Holy Spirit wishes to do in us and through us during this time.  Continue reading “Preparing for Lent”

A Sabbath in Capernaum

First Week in Ordinary Time: Mark 1:21-39

If you begin to read Mark’s Gospel, you will notice that Mark packs a great deal into the first twenty verses of the first chapter. We are introduced to John the Baptist and his ministry. Jesus appears, is baptized by John, and then goes off into the wilderness to be tested. He returns to Galilee, begins to preach about the Kingdom of God, and calls his first four disciples to follow him. That’s a lot in a few lines.

It’s therefore significant to notice that, when we get to verse 21, Mark slows down somewhat and spends some time describing a sabbath day in Capernaum and its aftermath. The fact that there is this change of pace alerts us that Mark wants us also to slow down and pay attention. Something important is happening here. It’s also very significant to note that it happens during and just after a sabbath day.  Continue reading “A Sabbath in Capernaum”