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.

(Blessed are you Who Understand) by Beth DeCristofaro



 (Paul said) Then (God) removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish. From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'"  (Acts 13:22-25)

When Jesus had washed the disciples' feet, he said to them: "Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled. The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. (John 13:16-18)


Piety

May God give us the grace to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit in courage and trust, through Christ, who remained faithful unto death and is risen in glory.  Amen.         (Evening Prayer for the Day)


Study

no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him So many Scripture stories reflect Jesus’ words, even though his main message here was about himself, lesser yet obedient and adoring of his Father.  Scripture describes Saul, David and Paul who indeed were lesser and flawed.  In life we have abundant examples including ourselves.  Yet we were called and chosen as were Saul, David and Paul.  Sacred history shows us how they rose to the occasion.  How we will is yet to be completed.  How we are to get there Jesus shows us.  He washes his disciples’ feet.  He serves. 


Would it be theologically challenging to wonder if Judas had not despaired of his sin?  Might he also have been remembered in a different way than despairing betrayer?  After all, Jesus said of him: But so that the Scripture might be fulfilled. The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me. If he had repented as John the Baptist proclaimed might he, too, twisted and aberrant as his actions were, also have found forgiveness?  Might his “service” to God be famous rather than infamous.


The author and poet Alice Walker says “In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful”.  Her words strike me as the way God sees me.  There is still a little (a lot?) of work to do so that I follow Jesus’ path to the light of God rather than my own crooked, aimless wanderings. Yet God loves me, child of God’s creation, in spite of myself.  In serving and accepting that I am lesser yet loved, my crookedness becomes beautiful.  


Action

How am I crooked or twisted as a chosen beloved?  How might I see and radiate the beauty of my life to others?



Illustration:

Wind-distorted tree growing from roadside grass
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Trevor Littlewood - geograph.org.uk/p/2213835


http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2213835

“Good Advice for the Ages” by Colleen O’Sullivan



Beloved: Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.  Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.  Be sober and vigilant.  Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.  (1 Peter 5:5b, 7-9)


Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15)


Piety

Lord, keep me safe from the love of worldly recognition.  Help me to serve rather than seek to be served.  Hold before me the truth that you are the only Rock worth leaning on and help me always to be vigilant against the evil spirit.


Study

As Peter and Mark write, Jesus is risen.  “So what do we do now?” must have been the question on every one of the apostles’ minds.  In the Gospel reading, we are told to be evangelists wherever we go.  Proclaim the Good News to every person on earth.  That’s the overall mission.  That’s the big picture.


Our first reading focuses more on our day-to-day pursuits.  In his letter Peter has some very particular suggestions:  Be humble.  Turn your worries over to God.  Keep your eyes open for the evil spirit, who is always looking for new prey.  Whatever happens, don’t waver in your faith.  Around the world are people like you undergoing the same sufferings. 


Pope Francis has had much to say on the topic of living a humble life.  The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.[1]  The Holy Father goes beyond mere words about humility, however.  He is known for his Holy Thursday washing of the feet of prison inmates.  He lives and dresses simply.  His lifestyle gives us something to think about and desire for ourselves, a lifestyle of humble service to others.


We all know that worrying is a waste of time, but that doesn’t keep us from spending countless hours doing so.  Trust in God instead, because God cares about us and has proven trustworthy throughout the ages.  The only rock worth leaning on in good times or bad is the Lord.


Peter tells us to beware of the evil spirit.  I know many people today laugh at the idea of the devil.  We’ve seen too many cartoons of a leering character dressed in red, holding a trident of some sort.  Forget all that.  The evil spirit is too smart for such nonsense and appears to us in guises of good that successfully beckon us down the wrong paths.  Evil is as alive and well as ever.


Finally, Peter says not to lose our faith.  When we feel it wavering, he advises looking around the world to realize that other people suffer the same things you and I do.  Suffering is part of life, not a reason to abandon our trust in the goodness of God.

 

Action

Peter’s advice is so down to earth, and yet so darn hard to follow.  Who doesn’t want to be a somebody?  But often we’re looking to the wrong audience, the world.  Better to be a loving servant, a real somebody in God’s eyes.


My middle name and many of yours as well could be “worry.”  We specialize in this, although I’ve never known worrying to change a thing.  Better to pray to God about what worries us; often God is the only one who can do anything to remedy our problems, anyway.


The evil spirit hates the name of Jesus and is powerless before it.  So, arm yourself in prayer.  In the Our Father, we pray, “deliver us from evil.”  In the Anima Christi prayer, we pray, “From the wicked foe, defend me.”


Wherever you feel Peter particularly speaking to you, use that as a jumping off point in your prayer today.




[1] (2015, The Spirit of St. Francis: Inspiring Words on Faith, Love and Creation)

Credit is Anton Mauve [Public domain or CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
“My Sheep Hear My Voice” by Melanie Rigney



For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples first were called Christians. (Acts 11:26)


All you nations, praise the Lord. (Psalm 117:1)


So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (John 10:24-28)


Piety

Lord, I pray that I may always be counted among Your sheep.


Study

When was the last time you heard His voice?


Was it early this morning, when your children were giggling over breakfast?


Was it in mid-morning, when your boss or a difficult colleague cut you a little slack when you weren’t prepared for a meeting?


Was it at lunchtime, when that guy who’s always panhandling at the Metro stop, instead of asking for spare change, told you to smile because God loves you?


Was it in the afternoon when you got an unexpected, welcome text or email from someone from whom you hadn’t heard for a while?


Was it on the way home, when scripture or another spiritual reading you’ve been struggling with suddenly was clear as clear could be?


Was it when you got home and found dinner ready, flowers, a sweet note in the mail, or some other little virtual (or real-life!) hug?


Was it in the evening, when you were counting your blessings in prayer and felt yourself drowsing off in God’s arms?


God speaks to us all the time… sometimes in that small, quiet voice, sometimes through the kindnesses of others. All we have to do is listen… and follow.


Action
Identify a place where God’s saying something loud and clear… and you’re choosing not to follow for fear, pride or some other barrier you’ve put up. Pray for the faith and courage to surrender your will to His.
Whoever Enters Through Me Will Be Saved



“If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?"  When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, "God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too." Acts 11:17-18


So, Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly." John 10:7-10


Piety

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, the living God. When can I enter and see the face of God?  (Psalm 42:2-3)


Study

There is only one gate – but all can go through the gate. “Whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.” 


Taken literally, Jesus does not choose only the Jews.  He welcomes anyone with the desire, the thirst, the hunger for a relationship with God. That was not what the Jews (the chosen people) had felt throughout their history.  It also is not what we witness happening in the first reading from Acts.  According to the explanatory notes in the NABRE:


The Jewish Christians of Jerusalem were scandalized to learn of Peter’s sojourn in the house of the Gentile Cornelius. Nonetheless, they had to accept the divine directions given to both Peter and Cornelius. They concluded that the setting aside of the legal barriers between Jew and Gentile was an exceptional ordinance of God to indicate that the apostolic kerygma was also to be directed to the Gentiles. Only in Acts 15 at the “Council” in Jerusalem does the evangelization of the Gentiles become the official position of the church leadership in Jerusalem.


The early Christians were challenged in many ways.  Religious practices set the Jews apart from the Gentiles.  Jesus did not see the same separation.  Slowly, the same realization washed over the disciples as some of the old practices like circumcision were resolved.


Peter saw a vision that required him to preach to the Gentiles.  Once he recognized the voice of God the shepherd, he realized he could not hinder the vision of the kingdom and he followed what the Lord instructed.    


Action

Culturally, we are still wrestling with this conflict between religion and nationalism today.


But these dualisms are not only the stuff of Biblical history. We have our own cult of the “Either.” Red State or Blue State? Progressive or traditional? Conservative or liberal? Pre-Vatican II v Post-Vatican II? Chant or Folk Music?

Peter confronted and conquered the tyranny of the “Or” in our reading today from Acts. Like Peter, we must dare to decide to embrace all our sisters and brothers in Christ. Like Peter, we have to make a choice. Like Peter, we cannot make our choice in a vacuum. What we have believed in the past is challenged and changed. Sometimes we have to begin anew. Peter was not prepared to condemn the Gentiles because they were physically different and ate different food.

Jesus helps reintroduce us to the reality of our original relationship with God. He is the “new Adam,” the shepherd who opens the gate for ALL OF US to walk with him and ultimately, to restore our relationship with the father. Jesus leads us, like a shepherd leading his sheep, back into this right relationship.
What is the path for your journey forward (onward/Ultreya)? Merton (in Zen and the Birds of Appetite) helps us find the way of the sheep by following the shepherd.


On our Cursillo weekend, we reflect on the archetypal story of the Prodigal Sons/Prodigal Father. By the end of the weekend, we explore our tools for moving forward (onward) from the weekend experience of conversion. The son who was lost attempts to journey forward by going back to his original identity by allowing his Father to purify him from his own will.

If we would return to God, and find ourselves in Him, we must reverse Adam’s journey, we must go back the way we came. The path lies through the center of our own soul. Adam withdrew himself from God and then passed through himself and went forth into creation. We must withdraw ourselves from exterior things, and pass through the center of our souls to find God. We must recover possession of our true selves by liberation from anxiety and fear and inordinate desire.


What is your path forward? Sometimes, you have to hit the backspace key before you can keep going in order for the story to unfold.


“Laying Down Our Lives” by Beth DeCristofaro



Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said “… in (Jesus’) name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved." (Acts 8:8, 10-12)


I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father. (John 10:14-18)


Piety

Fill me, Holy Spirit that I might always walk in the presence of Jesus.  God help me to be a living sign of the Good Shepherd, both following and leading, that your flock increase and your glory is made known.


Study

Mary Ann was a nursing administrator with whom I had the privilege to work eons ago.  We worked together in the small Midwest hospital where she had night responsibility for patient care and I was an overnight chaplain.  We never had the luxury of a coffee sit-down because our nights were busy and there was no cafeteria after 7 p.m. but we spent many hours together at emergencies, catching up as we made rounds between units and attending to tired, fearful sometimes angry patients and families together.  She was consistently wise, calm, caring, firm and gentle as she dealt with community and staff alike even when repeating for the umpteenth time the necessary protocols or necessary boundaries on good care.  In many ways, she was the face of what I hoped I could be in ministry.


Many years later Judy was my supervisor at a family services organization.  Her personality could not have been more different.  She was abrupt, quick to respond and almost authoritarian, not very patient when she confronted foolish situations or people and yet wise, fair and so very smart.  My role included supervising staff, running a small program for low-income caregivers and also grant writer to keep that program solvent.  My skill set was decidedly not the best for this last duty.  Judy guided me to be a much better manager of people and steward of our non-profit’s core mission and values.  I trusted her to a fault when decisions had to be made.


Both of these remarkable women were shepherds to me and I saw their work as holy work.  Their passion and commitment as well as their devotion to continuing their own growth as good administrators were inspiring.  They lived I know mine and mine know me and worked for the good of their flock. And as women of faith they, I know, are important building blocks in God’s Kingdom, resting securely upon the cornerstone God provided through Jesus the Good Shepherd.


Action

Who are the shepherds of your life?  Give thanks – perhaps let them know the blessings they have bequeathed.  Do I generously shepherd others for the glory of God?  How do I lay down your life for others? 


Illustration credit: Photography by Ali Awais, Artist in Lahore, Pakistan




To Whom Shall We Go?



Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, "Tabitha, rise up." She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord. Acts 9:40-42


As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
John 6:66-69


Piety

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God. (Psalm 42:2-3A)


Study

The relationship of food to hunger is pretty easy to explain to poor Jews in ancient, Roman-occupied Palestine.  Jesus uses something familiar to help them connect to something new – life in the Spirit. Some people understood.  Others did not.


Everything Jesus said about the bread of life is a step along the way as he reveals and revels in the Spirit.  Once people understand, the Spirit draws them to be just like water attracts a person who is thirsty, or food draws a person who is hungry.


Life in the spirit (the supernatural world) is a constant interaction between prayer and work (in the natural world) as we see with Peter’s story in the first reading.  When the community calls Peter into action at the side of Tabitha, his first step is not a step at all.  Peter kneels down in prayer. This piety feeds his faith so that Peter can bring her back to life.  This action then leads to many more people coming to believe.


Returning to the Gospel, the painful lessons about the bread of life might have turned some people away.  Those, like Peter, who remained, were fully committed to living out their commission. 


Action

In his April 19th homily, Pope Francis reflected on themes that come to life in Peter’s story today.


In reporting on this, Junno Arocho Esteves of Catholic News Service wrote that evangelization "isn't a well-thought-out plan of proselytism" but rather an occasion in which the Holy Spirit "tells you how you should go to bring the word of God, to carry Jesus' name."


His homily during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae continued by saying, "A 'couch potato' evangelization doesn't exist. Get up and go! Be always on the move. Go to the place where you must speak the word (of God)," he said.


Peter had to get up and go to Joppa to bring Tabitha back from the dead.  If he stayed in the comfort of the Upper Room or his fishing boat, none of the effects of his evangelization would have happened.



Where is the Spirit calling you to go this Easter season?


Be Filled



"Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.” Acts 9:17B-19


"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”   John 6:53-57


Piety

Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.

Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.

Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope. (Psalm 118:116)


Study

Hunger overtakes doubt as the theme for the Third Week of Easter.  This manifests in readings that show eating both in the literal and allegorical sense to satisfy the body and eating to satisfy the soul.  While Sunday’s Gospel showed Jesus asking his disciples for food, today we see Jesus providing the food for the soul.


Jesus’ miracle-making days are over. During the time from the Resurrection until the Ascension, his simple presence and desire to be with his friends and eat with his friends is enough.  He ate in Emmaus.  He ate baked fish with the disciples in Sunday’s Gospel. He ate on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.  In addition to tasting, Jesus is into touching (his wounds) and being touched.  He is into seeing (his friends and being seen). He is into hearing and being heard. The Post-Resurrectional early church is very sentient.


All of this “sensual” overload fuels a developing church that is built on desires. Recall the words of the travelers in Emmaus after Jesus departed: “Were our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” 


Action

Easter starts with lighting a fire…a small bonfire outside the sanctuary helps to light the candles of the Easter Vigil. Once that fire is lit, the darkness of Lent fades away.  Faith is about keeping the fires of Easter alive all year long. Faith is about elevating ourselves above the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing and focusing on the spiritual desires. We must meet the corporal works of mercy but only as they lead to the spiritual works of mercy.
 Posted by at 8:28 am

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