A Man From The Tombs: Mark 5:1-10


They came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”) He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory.

Because of my tendency to be long-winded (or in this case, long-versed.)  I had to break this section of Sacred Scripture  into two parts. But, I wondered if I did that, if I could keep the continuity of the whole story. Where would be a good stopping point? Well, since the story has twenty verses, I looked right in the middle and thought, “Yeah, we could stop there and continue on with verses 11-20  next week.”

As I concentrated on the first half of the story, asking God for direction  and understanding of what was being taught here; He helped me see something I’d never seen in this story before.

Hopefully, we are all familiar with the story here, it appears in St. Luke’s gospel account as well (8: 26-39). It is indeed another story of Jesus’ authority, and not just over a demon possessed person; but a person who is possessed by many demons, for his name is Legion. So that we may have an idea of what this means, legion was a military term used by the Roman Empire, that equaled six-thousand (6,000) soldiers. As we see, Jesus displays not only His superiority by casting out a single  demon, but by casting out legions  of them!

As amazing  as all that is, that wasn’t what God led me to expound on. No, what I was shown was something a little bit different. A man from the tombs; a simple enough statement. But, think on it a moment. What kind of man would you meet in the tombs? The only kind of man I should think of was….. a dead man !

Yes, that was it. A dead man . I saw it clearly. This man was in a sense dead, was he not? He was dwelling in the tombs for some while, separated from his family and friends . He had no occupation, no communal responsibilities – he was as good as dead .

As I pondered this, for most of a day, two more thoughts came to mind:

  1. this is us  before receiving the Gospel message
  2. this is a parable of Jesus’ own life

OK, Tim. You’ve just lost it!  I can see how this could be us before receiving the Gospel but, come on! This man was indwelled by many demons! You speak sacrilege !”

Let me explain.

In the sense that Jesus (God the Son) gave up His heavenly glory to take on the form of a servant (taking on the form of a man, Ph. 2:7) it confined Him. In a similar way, the unclean spirits confined the man from the tombs. Jesus also cried out over His mission  in the garden of Gethsemane (Lk. 22:39-44). The man from the tombs, was always crying out; could it have been over his situation ?

“So? What’s your point, Tim? What does this have to do with living out the gospel?”

I’m so glad you asked!

If we can’t see Jesus  in the circumstances of Sacred Scripture, then how on earth, can we see Him in our own circumstances ?

This week, why not dare to see Christ  in our everyday circumstances; recognizing Him, for who He is, prostrating ourselves and allowing Him to change those circumstances we’re facing?

And next week, we will conclude this section of Sacred Scripture, looking at A Man Reborn.

May God bring you every blessing through Christ this week!

Amen.

How Should Christians Respond To The Ray Boltz News?


I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it nicely.

Chastity and homosexuality

 

2357
Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Good Friday


Today we remember the beatings, the death and the burial of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thank you Father for your Son. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice.Thank you Holy Spirit, for your leading us to yourself.

Amen.

Holy Thursday


Happy Holy Thursday to you! I hope you have plans to go to a worship service tonight.

Tonight is the night we remember:

1) The last supper.

2) Jesus washes the disciples feet.

3) His agony in Gethsemane.

4) His arrest.

5) His trial.

If you can’t make a service tonight, read your favorite Gospel account, or all the Gospel accounts of Holy Thursday, and remember, give thanks to Him who gave His all for you.

Lenten Reflection Week 4: Matthew 27:46


And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This fourth saying of Christ from the cross is interesting in many ways. Two of which we will examine and reflect on for this fourth week of Lenten reflections.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is of course also found in Psalm 22. In fact several verses of this Psalm are quoted or alluded to in the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion.

In an attempt to understand the depth of scripture, first I’d like to challenge the conventional interpretation , not doing away with it of course ( for that will be part of our reflection for the week) but attempting to understand the tangible with the intangible.

When Jesus cries out, My God, My God why have you forsaken me, why might/would He say this aloud? Who were the bystanders? Think about this for a second; was it not the “religious” leaders of the Sanhedrin (a mix of Pharisees and Sadducee’s), the ones who had just condemned Jesus a few hours before and turned Him over to the Roman authorities? These folk knew their scripture, maybe they didn’t know how to interpret it, but they certainly knew it. The common people who followed Jesus to Golgotha, Mary, John and a few other women, they probably knew their scripture, much more so than the Roman soldiers that were there.

When Jesus cries out the first line of this Psalm, maybe, just maybe He was calling out to these “religious” leaders one last time to repent. Upon hearing this, their minds race to recall the words and content of this Psalm. When they realize the similarities of it and what is taking place, they have a choice to make; to repent of their sin or be in denial of their sin. “This one is calling for Elijah.” This may have been their attempt to cover up what Jesus had just said. Anyone who may have been pondering the Psalm, might have heard this comment and thought to him/herself, “Oh I must have misunderstood what Jesus had said.”

My point in all this? Even from the cross, Jesus gives the opportunity for repentance. From the cross He prayed for the forgiveness of His persecutors, He promised salvation to a God-fearing penitent. He showed mercy and compassion toward His mother and placed His faith in John to care for her. And one last time He calls for repentance.

Next, I’m sure we’ve all heard the sermon, homily and/or the Sunday school lesson about how this is the moment that all sin – past, present and future –  was placed upon Christ. Thus the Father , who isn’t even able to look upon sin, has to turn away from His Son. Jesus, knowing this cries out, for His Father has never done such before.

So in this fourth week of Lenten reflections, let us think of how our sin separates us from God. For if God had to turn away from  “His only begotten Son” who “did not know sin” was “made to be sin,”  what must He do to us who are “still sinners” ? Let us also reflect on His call to repentance. Jesus knows what kind of people we are and He loves us enough to grant us salvation. But our salvation journey begins with a first step and that first step is repentance.

Oh God, create a clean heart for me; renew in me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from Your presence, nor take from me Your Holy Spirit. Restore my joy in Your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.   Psalm 51: 12-14

Amen.

The Circumcision of the Lord


You have got to read this! This is awesome!

Being Obedient…Being Holy: I Peter 1:13-25


Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I (am) holy.” Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each ones works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a (pure) heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for: “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.” This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.  

Whenever a sentence in sacred scripture begins with the word, “Therefore” you need to remember to go back and recall what it’s “there for.”

By virtue of our baptism,(v.2 last week) we have received the call of God. Therefore we are instructed to gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. To gird up the loins of your mind should bring to mind the image of the first Passover, when the Israelites took flight from the Egyptians (Ex.12:11) and in the context of living soberly and setting our hopes completely on Christ, suggests vigilance and perseverance on the part of His people.

This is why obedience is a big issue in Peter’s letter. We must be like obedient children in order to Be holy for I am holy. In our former life, we were ignorant for we had no knowledge of God and that led us to godless conduct. We are called to be holy if we’ve received the the knowledge and love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Peter makes it clear that obedience and conduct reveal whose we are. For God judges us according to our works.

Peter then goes on to  teach us that this unknown God is made known by the revelation of Jesus Christ; He [Jesus] was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you, who through him believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. For us to believe in the invisible God, He was revealed visible. For us to have life, we were shown the resurrection from the dead! Knowing that what God the Father did for His Son Jesus Christ, He will do for those who are truly His.

Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth, Peter continues, we have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God. This word, word is the Greek word logos. Logos is “something said, thought or reasoned” in it’s definition (as in John 1). Jesus is the Logos of the Father Himself (Col.1:15). Contrary to what you may have been taught in the past, this passage of Scripture has nothing to do with the written word, that would be the word graphe. When Peter quotes this passage from Isaiah 40:7-8, out of the Old Testament Septuagint, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever”, the Greek word rhema is used. Rhema is similar in meaning, yet without the philosophical characteristic of Logos.

This is the word that has been proclaimed to you. This is the Word (Logos) Jesus Christ: conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, died and was buried, and on the third day He rose again.

So this week, let us seek the Logos in the graphe. How can we do this? We seek Jesus through the words He spoke (in the bible) and through His ordained Ministers in His Church (rhema). The Holy Spirit who guides them, guides us all “to all truth” (John 16:13). And this will lead us to be obedient, and therefore holy.

Amen.