Today's Scripture Verse

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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby GregB » December 24th, 2014, 12:01 pm

(Here's a timely reflection by the Irish Dominican monk, Donagh O'Shea on Luke 1:67-79 and the contrast of light and darkness:)

Two days ago we had the Magnificat, today we have the Benedictus: two canticles found only in Luke’s gospel. They are great cries of praise to God, who enters our world “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” A scholar said of these canticles that they are like “an aria in opera; the action almost stops so that the situation may be savoured more deeply.”

“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” I once heard someone say that darkness is primary: that it is more fundamental than light, because light needs fuel but darkness does not, and that darkness is therefore eternal. We are afraid of the dark, he said, so we say God is light. In some ways, he said, we don’t grow up; we are still terrified of the dark bedroom where we cannot see our mother. So we say God is light.

A Christian says that light is more fundamental than darkness. Darkness is nothing in itself, it is just the absence of light. Light is more fundamental than darkness. God could not be an absence. God is a tremendous presence, God is light. Darkness gives life to nothing, but light gives life to everything: all living things are forms of light, stored light-energy from the sun.

We say God is light in the way that we say God is good. The intention is not to limit God to what we know of these; but we say these realities point us towards God; or in St Paul’s phrase, they make us “alive to God” (Romans 6:11).

Tomorrow we celebrate the birth of Jesus. In the obscurity of a windowless cave it will be hard for us to appreciate that the light has come into the world. But to the eye of faith – which is used to darkness – he is “the light shines in the darkness, which the darkness cannot overcome” (John 1:5).
___________________________

(Amen. Lux aeterna - eternal light - shining in the growing present darkness...)
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
- Jean Cocteau
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby different glory » December 24th, 2014, 5:18 pm

Thanks, Greg.
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. - Psalm 26
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby GregB » December 25th, 2014, 9:11 am

(You're welcome, DG - and here is O'Shea's timely reflection for today, December 25th. The reading is John 1:1-18.)

There is a kind of timelessness about Christmas: it takes us out of our routines; suddenly all the rush of preparation is over and there is nothing more to do. This could be the moment to experience something different from the perpetual motion that is our ordinary life. But what happens? We turn on the TV, which is what we may have been doing every single evening since last Christmas. No change. Then we say Christmas is boring, or sad, or too commercial…. Of course it is; it is just like all the other days. We have not allowed change to happen. We have not allowed space for anything new to appear. Paradoxically, all the flashing lights, the incessant television, the Christmas cards, the emailing and text-messaging…all have the effect of filling our lives and so leaving no space to move, no space for anything really different to appear; so we are enclosed in a cave of artificial lights that never lead us to the sun.

“The light shines in the darkness.” But it does not shine in artificial light. We have to turn something off. We have to leave space and time for the new thing to appear.

The Child born today is God's new deed: the newest, the youngest, the most recent…the latest. But this is not announced in the excited voice of the advertisers; it is a silent deed. He is the Word made flesh, but he lies there as helpless to speak as any infant. Only in silence can this silent Word be heard. The new blade of grass does not make a scene or a noise; neither does the Word made flesh.
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
- Jean Cocteau
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby GregB » February 8th, 2015, 6:45 pm

The Book of Job has been invoked on the Stephen Fry thread in About Christianity and it forms the core of a timely reflection on suffering by the Irish Dominican monk, Donagh O'Shea, in his daily gospel meditation. Here is today's Bible verse and O'Shea's comments:

8 February [5th Sunday in Ordinary time]
Mk 1:29-39

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." He answered, "Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

In Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, I stayed for a time next door to an elderly one-eyed man, who was horribly ill. Mosquitoes in that part of the world carry cerebral malaria, which can be fatal, and I would often see him suffering another attack: sitting on the ground in the shade, shivering and perspiring, trying to smile, trying to speak French, trying to say things that would please me. His name was Job. He prayed to Mary all day long and read The Imitation of Christ. One day, when he had the book in his hand, I asked about it, and he read me two or three sentences. Here is a translation: “Oh that the eternal day had dawned already over the ruins of time! The blessed take their delight in the beyond, but we poor banished children of Eve groan under the bitterness and boredom of this present life.” He sat on the ground, caressed the book with his large root-like hands, and turned on me a single fevered eye that seemed to focus all the pain of existence itself.

His resemblance to his namesake in the first reading of today’s Mass was uncanny. The fictional Job in this reading had as painful an existence as the real Job in Bangui. The Book of Job is an intense meditation on the problem of innocent suffering. Job compares human life in general to forced military service, to the work of a day labourer, and to simple slavery – three proverbially wretched states of life. But his ‘comforters’ provided no comfort, only the aggravation of pat answers, which Job rejects at once. They tell him to repent, believing (as people did at that time) that all suffering was because of sin. Instead Job appeals to the love God has for him; his human friends have failed him, but he takes it for granted that his divine friend will come looking for him. It is crucial that in the Book of Job there is no evidence of belief in a next life. This bars all the obvious pat answers. Nevertheless Job refuses to give up his trust in God's love, and very soon he is talking to God and not to his ‘comforters’.

This is surely the key: there are no pat answers to the problem of suffering; it cannot be put to rest by any theories or explanations. Suffering is not just a problem for the mind; it touches our whole being: body, soul, and spirit. What it calls for is not an answer but a response. In the Christian faith, Jesus is God’s response to human suffering. God did not send us an abstract answer. He sent his own Son, who came and “lived among us” (Jn 1:14), who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. (Phil 2:7).

Leo the Great (5th century) wrote: “Jesus is the hand of God's compassion stretched out to us.” In today’s Gospel reading we see “the whole town crowding around the door” – suffering humanity coming to Jesus, who is God's response to our plight. For ‘the whole town’ say the whole world, for the eye of God's compassion is focused on every human being.
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
- Jean Cocteau
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby GregB » April 5th, 2015, 11:37 am

Today's reflection by Dominican monk Donagh O'Shea on John 20:1-9, appropriate for this Resurrection Sunday:

Echoing an ancient homily, Meister Eckhart said that it was because Mary Magdalene had nothing else to lose that she dared approach the tomb; the apostles had run away because, by implication, they were still trying to save themselves, or trying to save something for themselves. She had lost everything else, he said, "and so she was afraid that if she went away from the grave she would lose the grave as well. For if she had lost the grave she would have nothing left at all." She had come to the absolute poverty of the bereaved: she had nothing left but a grave. Yet it was in this state of utter deprivation that the Resurrection happened. It did not take place on the mountain-tops, or on a bright cloud, but in the heart of the grave, the 'degree zero' of human life. It was because Mary Magdalene had the heart to stay by the grave that she became the first bearer of the news of the Resurrection; she was the first Christian preacher.

At first she could not see Jesus anywhere. Why? "Because she kept looking further away than he was," said Eckhart. She kept looking for a dead body, an object; but Jesus was alive and standing beside her. We are at home with objects; they are at arm's length and we can deal with them. We make this kind of knowledge-at-arm's-length the standard of all knowledge; we equate 'objectivity' with truth. The word 'object' comes from Latin ob (against) + jacere (to throw). Moreover, the word 'object' connotes 'objection' rather than trust or faith. But the Risen Christ is nearer to us than any object could ever be. "Why are you seeking the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5).

Christians through the centuries have focused a lot of reflection on that large stone laid to the mouth of the tomb. When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb she found the stone removed. That large material object – which was also the most convincing objection to faith – was gone; and she was the first witness to this. The Risen Lord would show later on that he could no longer be restricted by material conditions: “When…the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them” (John 20:19). And so, that stone could not have held him prisoner in the tomb. Its removal was a sign of the resurrection, not a condition for it. Bede the Venerable (8th century) wrote, “[The angel] rolled back the stone not to throw open a way for our Lord to come forth, but to provide evidence to people that he had already come forth.”

No tomb on earth can hold the Lord. No material stone, however heavy, can imprison him. But we should not imagine that material stones are the hardest and heaviest things in the world. Who would have guessed that thoughts, which are made of nothing at all, could be heavier and harder than any stone? But experience tells us it is so. We are able to seal our minds and hearts with immoveable stones of prejudice, hatred and fear. "To behold the resurrection, the stone must first be rolled away from our hearts," said Peter Chrysologus (5th century).
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
- Jean Cocteau
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby different glory » April 6th, 2015, 12:02 pm

Thanks, Greg. :)
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. - Psalm 26
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby GregB » April 12th, 2015, 9:26 am

Another fine reflection today from Dominican monk Donagh O'Shea; this is on John 20:19-31, one of Christ's post-Resurrection appearances, the scene with the disciple Thomas:

The year was about 90 A.D. John's generation was disappearing; none of the younger Christians had known Jesus in the flesh, nor had they witnessed his appearances after the Resurrection. John's gospel wants to include them. "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

Thomas refused to believe what he had not seen; later he saw and believed. What did he see? Nothing that a sceptic couldn’t reasonably doubt. "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead" (Luke 16:30). It takes more than eye-witnessing to make faith. A faith that restricts itself to what is evident to the senses and to reason is faith in reason, not faith in God or in Jesus… Religious faith is not a balance of evidence but an opening of the mind and heart.

Is our faith irrational then? The traditional answer is no: it is not against reason, but beyond it, nevertheless overlapping in part. There is a strong temptation to remain within that overlap, effectively reducing the faith to a kind of "philosophy for the millions." If a person wanted to discredit the faith, the best way would be to argue weakly in its favour. In rejecting the arguments, people would also reject the faith. Sadly, this is just what we often do.

An argument is like a lock; we talk about 'clinching' an argument. It is always useful to ask yourself what you have won when you have won an argument. What have you pinned down and enclosed, what do you now have in your grip? It can often be a lonely thing to win an argument; you are left with a little patch that you have identified with yourself, and you have missed the wide world.

The disciples had locked themselves in. Fear was their motive, as it is the motive behind all locks. Suddenly "Jesus came and stood among them." It does not say that he knocked on the door and asked to be admitted: they would not have believed him anyway. It does not say he rattled keys in the lock: that would have frightened them even more. Inexplicably, against all sense and reason, he stood among them; he stood within the tight circle of their fear. Fear is a lock that can be opened only from the inside.

Jesus still stands within the sealed and guarded heart, if we dare to let ourselves believe it.
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
- Jean Cocteau
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby maz » February 1st, 2016, 4:25 pm

very strange connection, but I just read the above and that old soul or doo wop song came into my head 'Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache' (not thought of it for years - used to be played at a disco when I was 13 in '72).
Jesus breaks down our walls of whatever making if we let Him, maybe...
the other thought that came into my head was.. ''and all who long for His appearing....''
I don’t want to be known for the things I’m against, but for the things I am for... but....A person who loves flowers will hate weeds
http://gracewalkministries.blogspot.com ... trong.html
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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby Lyn » February 21st, 2016, 2:01 pm

1 Corinthians 5: 12-13

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

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Re: Today's Scripture Verse

Postby GregB » December 25th, 2016, 1:03 pm

An excellent and timely reflection on the first few verses of the Gospel of John by the Irish Dominican monk, Donagh O'Shea:

http://goodnews.ie/news.php?dt=2016-12-25
"The wiles of dissembling fate afford us the illusion of freedom, yet in the end always lead us into the same trap."
- Jean Cocteau
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