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A Life in Retreat? Yes and No….

dscf1215-copy-copyDevotional thoughts for our days
4  Delight yourselves in God, yes, find your joy in him at all times. Have a reputation for gentleness, and never forget the nearness of your Lord.
6  Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.
8  Here is a last piece of advice. If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God, fix your minds on the things which are holy and right and pure and beautiful and good. Model your conduct on what you have learned from me, on what I have told you and shown you, and you will find the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-8 (Phillips NT)

39      I see myself like a poor little bird, accustomed only to making short flights from tree to tree, or, at most, up to a third floor balcony… One day in its life it succeeded in reaching the roof of a modest building, that you could hardly call a skyscraper. But suddenly our little bird is snatched up by an eagle, who mistakes the bird for one of its own brood. In its powerful talons the bird is borne higher and higher, above the mountains of the earth and the snow capped peaks, above the white, blue and rose pink clouds, and higher and higher until it can look right into the sun. And then the eagle lets go of the little bird and says: Off you go. Fly! Lord, may I never flutter again close to the ground. May I always be enlightened by the rays of the divine sun—Christ—in the Eucharist. May my flight never be interrupted until I find repose in your Heart.

Far too often do I resemble St Josemaria’s little bird, content and yet bored with the simple life we struggle through.  Not only do I lack the power and skill to soar above the heights, I fear to do so, for flying that high means I could crash.  And if crashing close to the ground is hard, how much more devastating would it be to crash when I am spending time in the heavens?

The idea of soaring with eagles sounds nice, it sounds incredible, but I’ve been on too many retreats and had to come back to “reality” from the mountaintop experience.  Even worse, I’ve seen what it can do where people only see that mountaintop experience as the only blessed thing in their lives.  Where they live, remembering the high of the last retreat, and looking forward to the next one.

If only we didn’t have to come down!  

If only I wasn’t so afraid of those heights.

Paul urges us to delight in God, to give to him every detail of every problem, depending upon Him to receive them as He promised when He asked us to cast all our burdens upon Him.  He begs us to keep our eyes on the things that are good, that are Godly,

Does that require us to stay soaring in the heavens, only to be worthless here on earth?  Do we like the monks of old or the Amish, separate ourselves from the world?  How can we be in the world but not of it, as Jesus asks?

Is this command of Paul, to delight in God, to rejoice in all things possible?  Or is it just an unfulfilled dream?  And if it is unfulfilled, does this mean the negative impact I think it does, a life lived in disobedience and therefore condemnation?

I can’t worry about that question, nor its answer.  it is beyond my role, beyond my experience. For if I worry about that, the more I will not spend my time delighting in Him, and the less likely it will be for me to run to Him for the forgiveness I so need, for the comfort and consoling that will restore to me the joy of my salvation, and the awe of being found in His presence, and loved.

For that is where the delight comes from, in realizing how incredible God’s love is, a love that desires to make itself manifest in every moment of our lives.   love that would shape our lives with thoughts about what is righteous and just, what is lovely and pure, what is of God.

May our desire to dwell in His presence be satisfied, and may be not be satisfied with anything else.  AMEN!

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 366-374). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

What Peter didn’t know – we do!

 

Peter Didn’t Know,
but We Do!

Luke 9:28-36

 

May you realize that you walk in the grace, the mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, even as we walk in His glory

 

Have you ever observed a situation where you wonder what in the world was that person thinking?  Why in the world did they ever say that? 

Didn’t they realize….. and then you list reason after reason after reason that what they did was idiotic, how in the world couldn’t they have seen, how in the world did they come up with,

Most of us treat Peter that way, wondering how in the world he could manage to put his foot in his mouth so often.  Sometimes he got it wonderfully right, like the time when Jesus asked, “who do you say I am?”.  Or the time he got out of the boat and set the Guiness Book of World Records for longest distance walked on water by someone who wasn’t divine.

Other times, like when he demanded that the Son of God NOT obey the Father and give his life for us, or the time he said, “I will never deny you!”  Or the time he got caught by Paul eating bacon wrapped shrimp with the Gentiles and then telling the Jews it wasn’t kosher!

There were also a few times, where he proved the broken clock theory, where he was right, even when the next second he was wrong.  Oh I want to applaud the words he started with – Lord, it’s wonderful we are here!   So incredible true were those words, but then – how could he follow up with, I know – let’s set up three tents… 

If you’ve ever seen NCIS, that’s a Tony line, one that’s about to get you whapped upside the back of your head!

Build tents?  What was he thinking….even John’s gospel tells us he didn’t know what he was saying…. But the part about it being wonderful that they were there…that is pure truth.

What Peter didn’t know… we do…

What Peter didn’t know/hear –do we hear it?

Peter, like a few other times in the gospels, was sleeping, otherwise he would realize what was truly significant in the event on the top of the mountain.   It wasn’t the revealing of Jesus in all of His glory, as St. John wrote about:

John 1:14 (ESV) 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

That was incredible – and indeed Peter would mention it in his epistle as well:

2 Peter 1:16-18 (NLT) 16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

It’s not even that Moses and Elijah, the two great leaders of the Old Testament, the ones representing the Law and the Prophets, were there.

It is what is talked about among Moses and Elijah and Jesus, while the Peter and James and John are taking a quick nap.  It is the discussion about everything that Moses and Elijah, all the Law, and the Old Testament Histories, the Writings and the Prophets, what all of this pointed to clearly…

The NLT describes it as “his exodus from the world”, that which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem….His being lifted up – the crucifixion, His death

The glory of God revealed, the very thing Jesus was sent to do… it wasn’t about the glory days of Israel, it wasn’t about overcoming the rulers from Rome.

It was about the cross, and death, and realizing how much those three numbskulls who fell asleep needed the grace and mercy that would flow like the wounds that Jesus would bear as he was tried and sentenced and executed, bearing all sin upon himself.

Why it is so wonderful

That is why the Transfiguration was such an event. A few verses after this gospel reading, after a little more teaching, and healing as they rejoined the other disciples, Luke tells us, that as the times approached for him to be lifted up on the cross, he set his face like stone and journey’d toward Jerusalem.

So what does that mean for us?

It is about here (the baptismal font) where Kevin will be linked to that exodus of Jesus, to Jesus death, for as Romans 6 says,

Romans 6:4 (NLT) 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Our chance, Kevin’s chance, to get out of this rat race, to escape, not the problems of this world, but the power that sin and the fear of death have over us, that journey out starts here.   As God’s word and the water cleanse him, not just of His sin, but opens up the opportunity to journey with God, in His peace, in His glory, until we arrive home, where we will see Him face to face.

Even so, the dwelling in His glory?  It is not so far off.  Hear Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians,

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NLT) 16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

That is what this is all about, what we can comprehend far more than Peter.  That living in the love, and the peace of God, is living in, and sharing in the glory of God. Our journey is alongside His – to the cross, as Chuck says, – the cross where His body is fixed, in our baptism, and the cross where we celebrate His body and blood broken and risen,  as we share in the feast that is a foretaste of the feast to come.

Build three tents?  No!  Having fed on the word, let us celebrate as we witness the promises poured out on another brother! Then let us celebrate as we share in the glorious feast, as we realize we dwell in the presence of God; the merciful, loving presence of the one who would be transformed on a glorious mountain!  As He was encouraged as he set out for another mountain, one even more glorious, where the depth of God’s was revealed, glorious, even as Jesus would be lifted up for us on the cross.

Because of that – know that you dwell in the peace filled presence of God, which is beyond any understanding, in which we dwell safely, our hearts and minds secured there by Christ.

AMEN!

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