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Come and See!


Brief reflections on the week’s Scripture readings,

 For the Week of January 23rd, 2022.


The Word…
 

“Brothers and sisters: As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…

all given to drink of one Spirit.…
But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body…
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it…”
(from 1 Cor 12:12-30)

 


Pondering the Word …

How do you define the Body of Christ? Are there boundaries or limitations as to “who or what is in, who or what is out” when you think of Christ -- not Jesus – the Christ? How wide or narrow is your view? Paul puts a limit in that he says one needs to be “baptized” into the one Spirit.

We hear in the Old Testament reading today from Nehemiah a lovely story of the priests consoling the children of Israel after the exile, encouraging them to celebrate God’s blessings and not to dwell on their sinfulness. Except this is also the beginning of a time of ethnic cleansing, the driving out of foreign wives and children and anyone whose lineage may have been tainted by the years in exile. The law, which has been for the most part lost during captivity, is now to be enforced with a vengeance. It’s so convenient, isn’t it? If I exclude them, then I don’t have to feel their suffering.

In these days of heightened tensions, with disagreements and debates about who’s in and who’s out—nationally and all the way down to local religious congregations -- each of us should ask ourselves these questions: “Who do I exclude from the Body of Christ?” “Who would Christ exclude?”


Living the Word…

I have made the joke that I believe everyone is part of the Universal Body of Christ. Just don’t ask me to say what part I think they are! Even by saying that, I know I am missing the point, but hey, I’m human!

If you are up for a challenge to learn more and expand your vision of “The Christ” and what that word really means, The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr would be a good place to start. I am rereading it right now. His writing is more accessible on this subject than say, is de Chardin, Thomas Merton, or Ilia Delio, but it will challenge you to think differently.

During these difficult days, we may be inclined to hunker down with our well-worn faith images and beliefs; indeed, many of them provide great comfort. But we also need to consider if God is asking us in the time of change to broaden our horizons, to go outside our comfort zone, to open our minds and hearts to the universal call of Christ.
 


Mon, Jan 24: “Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness…” (Mk 3:22-30)

Jesus is sticking to the scribes. He says if you attribute to Satan what is actually of God, you’re cooked. I think of judgments being leveled within religions these days and wonder: Do any of us know enough of God to make the accusation the scribes make? Reflection/Provision: Consider this in light of an informed conscience, not based on what someone else tells you to believe. Refrain from judgment of others, but make good judgments for yourself.

Tue, Jan 25: Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard what evil things he has done to your holy ones...” (Acts 9:1-22)
Ananias tells God the awful things Saul’s been doing. I see God nodding very patiently—“IKR”-- accepting Ananias’ fear. But God tells him to go to Saul anyway and Ananias does just that. He trusts in God’s word and protection.
Reflection/Provision: Do you feel God is unaware of the difficulties you face? It’s a very healthy thing to come to God with your fears. Then listen for God’s reassurance, support, and direction. Trust in God’s protection.

Wed, Jan 26: “Some seed fell on the path…other seed fell on rocky ground… some fell among thorns…” (Mk 4:1-20)
Reflecting on this well-known parable, it struck me: the ground of the path — it has been trod upon for years, used and abused, not cared for or tended. How is that soil supposed to be good? The rocky ground -- I wonder if anyone has ever tried tilling it or ridding it of the rocks. Has anyone ever tried to rid the ground of the thorns?
Reflection/Provision: Good soil is taken care of. “Manure” is worked into the soil to nurture it, not just piled on top, smothering it. It is not trod upon or left to the weeds and thorns to overtake it. Consider people you see as not being open to God’s Word. Look at the soil of their lives. Has it been trod upon, smothered by misfortunes, left arid among the rocks and thorns? What will you do to nurture them today?

Thu, Jan 27: “Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear.” (Mk 4:21-25)
‘In other words, pay attention. Don’t just hear -- listen. Internalize what I say. Figure out what it means for you today. And realize you need to pay attention all the time, because even though you’ve read or heard these words a thousand times, the message today is new.’
Reflection/Provision: Has it ever happened to you that certain words in Scripture all of a sudden take on a new meaning? Something totally different from what you’ve always thought? Gosh, I hope so! I pray you can see God making all things new by enlightening you and revealing to you the Word as it applies to you right now. Read today’s verses. Try to forget all the sermons you’ve heard in the past. Read it like you’ve never read or heard it before. Use a different translation. Allow the Spirit to make it new for you.

Fri, Jan 28: One evening David rose from his siesta and strolled about on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful. (2 Sm 11:1-10, 13-17)|
And so begins the story that wins the “Best Old Testament Soap Opera!” David is on a roll. God has promised him great blessings. He’s smiting enemies left and right and showing great kindness to Saul’s family and friends. He’s quite sure of himself -- still giving credit to God, but inklings of pride and hubris have entered the picture.
Reflection/Provision: If we find ourselves getting too comfy in our relationship with God, God usually sends a bowling ball down the alley of our lives to knock us silly. Make no mistake: David still falls prey to the sin of pride in the future (although nowhere near as dramatically). But he always returns to God for mercy. Most of us don’t commit David’s egregious sins Still, reflect on times when your relationship with God has led you to smugness or overconfidence, or when self-centered pride has arisen. We might experience it as judgement of others. To be continued…

Sat, Jan 29: Nathan said to David: “You are the man! David said, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Sm 12:1-17) Aside from my ongoing beef with David’s plea for mercy in Psalm 51: “against only God I have sinned” --what about Uriah, Bathsheba, and her child?! -- I wonder how long it would have taken him to realize his sin if Nathan hadn’t been there to point it out. At least David has the wisdom to listen to Nathan. How many other leaders of Israel ignored the prophets God sent to them? Reflection/Provision: We don’t like to have someone point out where we are coming up short, particularly given that the prophets we encounter are sinful themselves. And yet, St. Paul reminds us in his letters of the responsibility to hold others to higher standards, even while admitting his own faults. Try to listen with an open mind and heart to the prophets in your life, and pray for the Spirit’s guidance when you are called to be a prophet for someone else.


We hope you enjoy "Come and See!" and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at ehireland@loyola.edu with questions, comments, and responses.


To receive “Come and See!” via email, send request to ehireland@loyola.edu.

© 2021, Elaine H. Ireland.


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