Feb 062005
 

Your Daily Tripod

"Your Daily Tripod" reflects the personal Fourth Day journeys of its authors and editors. We are happy to have companions like you share in this project. Our prayer is that these reflections will invite and inspire your Fourth Day journey of Piety, Study and Action as much as writing or editing them inspires our journey and brings us all close moments with Jesus and our neighbors.


As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you unless one is born of water and Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:3-8

Piety
I will pour out water upon the thirsty ground, streams upon the dry land; I will pour out my spirit upon your offspring, my blessing upon your descendants. (I 44:3)

Study
On the Second Sunday of Easter, the Good News gave us the all-too-familiar story of Doubting Thomas. Today, paired up with Doubting Thomas is Doubting Nicodemus. Nicodemus was likely a member of the Sanhedrin. This supreme council was made up of seventy-one members of three groups – elders, chief priests, and scribes. It was presided over by the high priest and exercised authority over the Jews in religious matters.

I call Nicodemus “doubting” not because he doubted the news of the resurrection like Thomas – that was still an unfolding mystery. Rather, the power of Jesus’ teaching had Nicodemus doubting the authority which he wielded as a member of the Sanhedrin. Jesus came to Thomas to quell his doubts. Nicodemus came to Jesus to explore his doubts and Jesus rocked his world like the earthquake in Acts.

The earthquake is used as a sign of the divine presence in Exodus and Isaiah. However, in Acts 4, the shaking of the building symbolizes God’s favorable response to the prayer. Nicodemus was feeling more of an internal earthquake as the natural lessons he was charged with passing on to the Jewish faithful were called into question as the teaching of Jesus stirred in his mind and his heart.

As the dialogue gets underway, Nicodemus confuses the meaning of the Greek adverb anōthen. It means both “from above” and “again.” Jesus means “from above” but Nicodemus misunderstands it as “born again.” This misunderstanding serves as a springboard for further instruction. Now the lesson becomes more of a discourse from Jesus, no longer a dialogue with Nicodemus.  Yet the Pharisee is still there listening with the ear of his heart.

The New Birth in the Spirit is foreshadowed in the great opening of John’s Gospel. Followers or believers were known because they “were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.” (John 1:13). However, this new birth is not a new concept. Nicodemus is able to put it into the context of the teachings of the earlier prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah.

I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them. Ezekiel 36:25-27

The notes in the New American Bible to this passage from the Hebrew Bible explain that God’s initiative to cleanse Israel is the first act in the creation of a new people who are no longer disposed to repeating their own wicked past. To make this restoration permanent, God gives them a new birth which replaces their rebellious and stubborn “heart of stone” with a new “heart of flesh” susceptible to and animated by God’s intentions – God’s “spirit.”

As an educated teacher, Nicodemus would have known this passage and perhaps hearing some of that reflected in Jesus’ words was compelling and called him to explore further. Nicodemus also was likely familiar with the theme of the “new birth in the spirit” rooted in Isaiah.

The castle will be forsaken,
the noisy city deserted;
Citadel and tower will become wasteland forever,
the joy of wild donkeys, the pasture of flocks;
Until the spirit from on high
is poured out on us.
And the wilderness becomes a garden land
and the garden land seems as common as forest.
Then judgment will dwell in the wilderness
and justice abide in the garden land. Isaiah 42:14-16

Extraordinary peace and justice will come to the people – and peace we come to know is the first gift of the Resurrection delivered by Jesus.

Recall the Sunday Gospel – the first gift Jesus bestowed when he passed through the locked doors when Thomas was not present. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." (John 20:19)

Like Thomas later in the narrative, Nicodemus was thirsty for the peace which is bestowed by knowledge of this new birth in the spirit. Jesus pours out his spirit onto and into the thirsty Nicodemus. We will see the reborn Nicodemus again defending Jesus in the temple and again at the foot of the cross when the other disciples have scattered.

Action
Yesterday, I was in a different church. It was not my first visit to this West Virginia parish and its new church designed to visually recall the architecture of classic high-ceilinged churches of the past with dark bricks and woodwork. Despite the joy of the season, I just could not get into the celebration. The sound system was off. The chords of the organ overpowered the voice of the cantor. The echoes of the walls made it hard to understand the meaning of the deacon preaching. Even as the deacons made their way among the faithful with holy water, they did not express the same joy you see on the faces of Fr. Greenhalgh or Fr. Wilson or Fr. Barkett or Fr. Stefan and they help us relive the joy of our Baptism.

Unlike Nicodemus, I gave up too soon yesterday. I did not try hard enough to understand what was happening. If Nicodemus ever became a patron saint, perhaps he would be the patron of patient listening or the curious mind. 

"St. Nicodemus," keep the ears of my heart open so my mind might be as curious as yours even when my basic beliefs are challenged or my expectations not met.
Second Sunday of Easter (or Divine Mercy Sunday)

Musings by Wayne Miller

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.  Acts 2: 42-43

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20: 26-28

Piety
A C T S (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication) - Lord, you are my Rock, my sure, calm voice in the midst of chaos, my only refuge in fear & stress & doubt.

And yet I so often wander off on my own in wonder & fascination, following the siren call of the next shiny experience.  I know that this gift of joy/excitement/pleasure-in-Your-Creation is also from You and an intrinsic element of the unique, precious son You created me to be.  But I so often surrender connection with You when I search for a relationship with the created instead of the Creator.

Thank You for Your everlasting forgiveness & acceptance & welcome in all my wanderings and all my homecomings.

Please help me to recognize when I am not on a path with or toward You, and to be teachable in every moment of this journey.  Please, give me Your Eyes & Ears & Heart & Gentle Tongue, and use me to express Your Love to Your children.  And please help me hear Your voice in all my brothers & sisters – especially when I don’t feel or understand it.

Study
A C T S (Adoration, Community, Theology, Service) – Being a part of a joyful, praising community is no less essential today than it was 2,000 years ago.  While personal conversation & reflection & listening with God are essential, far more epiphanies have come to me through the voices & lives of my brothers & sisters.

I am called to grow & learn about my relationship with the Lord because it is His Way & how He uses me to reach out in love to ALL His children.  When we share the fire & excitement & inspiration we have received from Him with our brothers and sisters, THAT is the Fire of the Holy Spirit, spreading as surely among us as it did on Pentecost in that Upper Room.

Today the Gospel tells of Jesus’ first appearance to His disciples and how poor old, stubborn Thomas missed the party.  When Jesus visited again to clarify Thomas’ vision, we can even feel the embarrassment at Jesus’ chastisement because Thomas had to touch to believe.  But I see a Brother-Lord-God who loves us so much and is so infinitely patient with us, that He will go to any lengths to establish a relationship with each of His precious, unique children.  And some of us are just wired such that we need to touch to believe.  And, yes, blessed are those who have not seen and do believe.  But I’m betting even those first touched Jesus through a parent, a friend, a pastor who had the courage to open their life & will so that Jesus could flow through their unique, personal gifts to LOVE His brothers & sisters.

Action
A C T S (Another Chance To Sing!) – Lord, just for today, help me to Love everyone I meet with Your Infinite Patience and Appreciation and Forgiveness and Acceptance.  May I celebrate every stranger, friend, associate, family member I meet in perfect peace & harmony with You.  May our piety, study, & action lead each of us to a deeper appreciation of You as we experience a deeper appreciation of our brothers and sisters.

De Colores!

Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus. Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing in reply. So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred with one another, saying, "What are we to do with these men?  Acts 4:13-16A


But later, as the Eleven were at the table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature." Mark 16:14-15


Piety

Father, help us to obey you rather than our culture.  Make it impossible for us to not speak and act about what we have seen and heard.


Study

There are lots of commandments throughout the Bible.  There are the ten that Moses carved in stone and brought back down the mountain.  There are the two that Jesus spoke and etched into our hearts and minds. Remember that from Matthew 22:36-40?


“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”


In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus does not say much that is directly quoted AFTER the Resurrection.  There is the encounter in the tomb with the young man in the white robe.  However, that figure is not revealed as Jesus.  While there is a reference to a few other encounters, today’s Gospel includes the beginning of the ONLY direct quote we have according to St. Mark. 


"Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature."


What happens?  Do the disciples run and scatter again as they did on Good Friday?  Not hardly.  This time, they obey and act upon the Final Commissioning. “…[T]hey went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16:20). 


We see how some in the world react to this in the Acts of the Apostles. Peter and John did not get in trouble for what they said.  They got in trouble for what they did – their preaching was mixed up in their action – healing the man crippled from birth.


Action

What are these Cursillstas to do with the lessons they have learned?


Proclaim. Sound off. Spread it around. Get on a Soapbox.  Announce.  Blast.  Broadcast.  Demonstrate. 


Demonstrate.


Demonstrate.


It is not just about what we say.  It’s more about what we do.

By Colleen O’Sullivan

 “… all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name, this man stands before you healed.  He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  (Acts 4:10-11)

Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”  And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.”  (John 21:12)

Piety
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.  (Psalm 118:22-23)

Study
Peter’s musing: 

Someone asked me the other day how I came to be where I am.  I fell to thinking about the journey I’ve been on these last few years.  It boggles even my mind to realize the distance I’ve come.  You see, I used to be content working with my father and brother fishing.  It’s what my father’s father did and his father before him.  I just followed in their footsteps.  I liked fishing, still do.  I loved my family, spending the day with them out on our boat.

Neither Andrew nor I were great scholars.  We knew the basics of the Scriptures, but our family had no money for education beyond the basics.  They needed us to help put food on the table.  There was never any discussion of us studying at the feet of any rabbi.  We simply took up fishing with our dad.  I found a beautiful woman and married her, and I needed the money to support her and the kids who came along.

Although we spent most of our time out on the water, casting our nets for fish, my brother and I found time to go out into the desert once in a while to hear that preacher everyone was talking about, John the Baptist.  He was always talking about someone greater than he who was coming into the world.

Sure enough, one day this fellow Jesus, whom John talked about at every turn, showed up as we were unloading our boat.  He stood there watching us for a while and then we began to talk. There was something about him that struck me.  Maybe it was his enthusiasm or his zest for life, but I liked him from the moment I met him.  When he invited us to follow him, promising to make us fishers of men, I was intrigued.   I think even my dad would like to have tagged along, but he said someone needed to keep up the fishing business, so he stayed back while my brother and I followed Jesus.

I’ve never done anything like that in my entire life, but there was something extraordinary about Jesus.  He looked so sure of himself and so full of life.  I wanted to know how he got that way.

Little did I know where the journey would lead.  At first, it was exciting.  Jesus had a healing touch.  He even healed my mother-in-law of a fever one night!  Everywhere we went (and more people began to journey with us as time went on) crowds began to gather.  I never knew there were so many sick and crippled people in the world.  Everyone wanted to be made whole.

After a while, though, I began to feel an undercurrent of danger.  Not everybody liked Jesus.  The scribes and the Pharisees particularly seemed to hate him.  Maybe they saw the crowds flocking to Jesus every place we went.  Maybe they realized that more people wanted to see and hear Jesus than wanted anything to do with them.  They began laying traps, trying to get Jesus to say something they could arrest him for, but he always had some comeback to which they had no answer.

About now, Jesus began to talk with us in a more serious manner.  He always wanted to know what people were saying about him, who they thought he was.  He was the most special person I’ve ever known.  I wondered if maybe, just maybe, he was the one we had been waiting for.  So, one day when he asked who we thought he was, I blurted out, “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  I had it right, but, boy, did I have it all wrong at the same time.

A suffering Messiah wasn’t anything I had ever envisioned.  I protested the notion that my friend Jesus should ever suffer, and Jesus yelled at me.  He called me Satan!  I was so upset and ashamed!  But there was a lot I didn’t understand.

Jesus had a final meal with the 12 of us.  Before we ate, he wanted to wash our feet.  My feet are the ugliest, dirtiest part of me and there was no way the man whom I worshiped was going to wash them, but again I completely misunderstood what Jesus was trying to do.  I made an utter fool of myself.

I wish I could say I was a faithful friend.  I wanted to be.  Jesus even predicted that I would betray him.  I had every intention of being the best friend in the world, but when the trouble really started, with Judas betraying our leader, I found myself shivering with fear.  They took him to the high priest’s courtyard, where the mood was deadly.  And, so, before I knew it, out of fear I had denied three times ever knowing my friend.  He looked over at me at one point with love and compassion, and that made me feel even worse.

I wanted to die when I realized what I had done.  I went home.  I despised myself, but I didn’t have the courage to go back.  He was crucified the next day.  I couldn’t watch.  I thought the world, my world, anyway, had come to an end. 

Even later, when some of the others said he had risen from the dead, I couldn’t lose that feeling of self-loathing and shame.  I desperately wanted to see him and, at the same time, I couldn’t imagine ever looking him in the eye again.

So it was with trepidation that I approached the shore that morning when we gave up on fishing and then saw the Lord himself making breakfast for us. But my utter failure as a friend never came up.  In fact, Jesus wanted to walk with me.  I realized that he knew how remorseful I was.  Even more, I saw that my denials of him hadn’t stopped him from loving me and forgiving me.

I am a transformed man.  I know I am a sinner, but I also know the power of God’s love poured out on me through the trust and friendship of his Son.  Where before I was timid and afraid, the Holy Spirit has strengthened me.

The powers that be can seize me or arrest me, but they will never shake the foundation of my faith, which is my friend and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Only death will ever silence me.  I want to heal and forgive in the name of Jesus!  I want to tell the whole universe about this Messiah who turned the world upside down!

My family can hardly believe the change.  I am aglow with my love for Jesus Christ, and I cannot contain that love.  I want to tell the story so that every person will see him the way I do.  Jesus, I love you, and I will proclaim you as the cornerstone of our faith as long as there is breath in my body.

Action
Spend some time today prayerfully reflecting on your own faith journey.   Are there any similarities to Peter’s journey?

By Beth DeCristofaro


(Peter) addressed the people, "You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made (the crippled man) walk by our own power or piety? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate's presence when he had decided to release him.  You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. (Acts 3:12-16)


While they were still speaking about this, (Jesus) stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified … Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."  (Luke 24: 36-37, 45-48)


Piety

Jesus Passed Through Death,  Stephen B Whatley

Study

It’s disconcerting to have someone ask “How are you?” while they walk right past without pausing.  “Uhhhh, ok” you might have time to mumble.  “Have a nice day” is an afterthought spoken without minding to whom we speak while “take care” might be said with a real wish to wish it but is mouthed without attention.  Much of what we say to each other is said only to say something because we want to connect but don’t know how.


Jesus, however, doesn’t worry what others think nor does he fumble for words to fill the space. “Peace be to you,” Jesus says.  “Do not be afraid,” He comforts Mary at the tomb.  There is no need for an uproar or fear even living under Roman oppression, even traumatized by watching a beloved innocent be tortured to death.  No need for uproar or fear because The One who acted not on his own but on behalf of and to display God’s glory is with us.  No need for an uproar or fear because the greatest, the deepest reason to fear has been conquered.  Death is vanquished once and for all in His resurrection. No reason for an uproar or fear even in the suffering of the human condition.


During Lent, we practice self-denial not out of hatred for the world which, after all, is of God.  We practice self-denial to reveal the truth that we are too often governed by our own egos.  We are not aware of the presence of Jesus standing in our intimate midst saying to us “Peace” and “Do not fear.”  The joy of resurrection gifted by Jesus is obstructed.   Peter and John knew and proclaimed that power, their peace, their confidence was rooted and sprung from Jesus in their midst, not in personal limited human identity.  Once “startled and terrified”, men and women whose faith was strong in His name changed the world with their witness.


Action
“In his Regina Coeli address on Easter Monday, Pope Francis preached about how Christ’s resurrection brought hope and life into the world, and how we are called to live that out in how we act toward our brothers and sisters around the world.  ‘In the midst of events that afflict the world,’ he said April 17, ‘in the midst of worldliness that is distant from God,’ we are called to show solidarity, welcoming and peace to people. These are only human signs that we can give, he continued, but ‘inspired and sustained by faith in the Risen Lord,’ we can gain effectiveness ‘well beyond our capacity.’” [i]  

How do we display strong faith and radiate God’s Peace toward our brothers and sisters around the world?

When [the man crippled from birth] saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk." Acts 3:3-6


As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at the table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Luke 24:28-31


Piety

Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 


Study

Feet play a pretty important role in the Bible. Over the weeks of Lent and the Triduum, we witnessed Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and nails being pounded through the feet of Jesus. Jesus told the disciples when they were not welcome, to shake the dust from their feet and move on. Sometimes, feet delayed a journey – as in the time Jesus did not leave to see Mary and Martha until several days after their brother Lazarus died. Sometimes, feet moved quickly, as when John ran faster than Peter to find the empty tomb.


Today’s blessed feet belong to the man crippled from birth until he was reborn through the miracle of Peter and John. The other blessed feet belong to the walkers heading to Emmaus when they encounter the Risen Christ.


When our feet take us where we are supposed to be, amazement and astonishment are sure to follow. The man who was healed and the disciples walking to Emmaus have Epiphany moments. Up until the moment of healing and/or revelation, the people in our stories today – like us -- continually suffer at the smallness of our temporal existence. The crippled man just wants gold and silver. The disciples just want to remain in their grief reciting the news of the past – too busy to recognize the God in their midst. However, the miracles that they experience pull them beyond the anchor of the past, into the present moment and onward to eternity. Onward!


The great Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said, “The moment is not properly an atom of time but an atom of eternity. It is the first reflection of eternity in time, its first attempt, as it were, at stopping time.” Time stopped for eternity in the Triduum – the span of days that we commemorate and relive every day at Mass but especially in the Octave of celebrating eight days of Easter.


Action

Time also stops in the stories today as we read them and await our healing, our revelation, our Epiphany. Are you ready for your moment? Will it come tonight? Will it come tomorrow? Where is your Beautiful Gate and your Emmaus?


Where will your feet take you today and tomorrow?

Art by Lisbeth Zwerger for a special edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


Did you render unto Ceasar on April 18?  In honor of every reader of Your Daily Tripod who has completed, filed or extended their tax deadline: I offer you this bonus observation:  "The tax code is 10 times longer than the Bible, without the Good News." - David Camp
Photo by @melanierigney

By Melanie Rigney


Peter said (to the Jewish people), “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)


The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. (Psalm 33:5b)


Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. (John 20:15-16)


Piety

Lord, teach me.


Study

Mary Magdalene was full of words and requests…and probably worries and grieving and nervousness… when she thought he was the gardener. Would he send her away or jeer at her or have her arrested? Would he tell her where they had taken Jesus, and would he let her take the body? Any caution she might have for herself or concern about the two disciples who had left for home was overridden by her need to care for Him. Indeed, moments before this encounter, she talked with two angels, and in her grief, that didn’t seem to have fazed her one bit.


But there was only one thing to say after he called her by name and she turned to see Him:


“Rabbouni.”


No questions about what had happened or how or why, or what would happen next to Him, to her, to their friends, or to those who hated them.


“Rabbouni.”


It was all she said. It was all she needed to say. It is all we need to say.


Action
Set aside your concerns about the past or the future. In prayer today, simply listen to what the Teacher desires to teach you.
 Posted by at 8:28 am

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