Easter Day Reflection: He Has Been Raised

EmptyTomb“When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:1-8 NRSV).

Every Easter when I hear and/or read the words, “He has been raised; he is not here” I get goose bumps.  These are the most beautiful words read on Easter Day.  It is these words that allow our tongues to be let loose to sing the Alleluias that we couldn’t sing during Lent.

When we contemplate the words, “He has been raised; he is not here” what do they mean to us?   How do we respond in our hearts to those words?

I cannot say what they mean to everyone.  Each person responds to the Word differently.  I can offer some thoughts about what they mean for me.

“He has been raised; he is not here” tell me to let go.  Let go of my self insecurity and trust in Jesus.  I am reminded of what St. Benedict wrote in Chapter 7 of The Rule about humility.  Jesus showed me how to let go in His death.  In His Resurrection, Jesus shows me that letting go is possible and gives me hope.  I do not have to do it myself, in fact, it is not all about me.  Letting go is not only possible because of the Resurrection, but I have every reason to do it.  Even when it is really difficult.  In the death and resurrection of Jesus, I am never alone and I always have hope.

What does the news of the Resurrection mean for you?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Good Friday Reflection: The Contradiction of The Cross

Crucifixus

This Christ is a man who himself lived with tension and contradiction and inner conflict.

He is a man surrounded by friends who yet withdraws to be apart in the desert.

He is a son and yet he separates himself from his family and asks “who is my mother and who are my brothers?”

He stays alone with himself through long nights of prayer but still journeys on on a road that he knows will bring him to suffering and to death.

He is the redeemer who on the Cross holds together the vertical, pointing towards God, and the horizontal, arms outstretched to the world.

In Christ all things will be brought together.

In Christ all things will be well.  (Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality, Esther de Waal p.39,40).

Finding something to use for a meditation on Good Friday is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. One can use any Scripture reference or of the thousands of references to the Cross in hymnals, Office books, books, etc.  On this Good Friday, I chose this quotation from Esther de Waal’s book because there is no paradox or contradiction quite like the Cross.

The Cross is about torture, violence, death, shame and all the ugly words that can describe it.  Yet, because of the death of Christ upon it, it is the greatest symbol of God’s unconditional love.  All of humanity’s cruelty and malice meets its match in the self-sacrificing love of Christ who is God’s perfect revelation.  It cannot be fully grasped or understood.  Yet, it is as clear as looking through a plate glass window to what is on the other side.

To contemplate the Cross, is to sit in the presence of God who sees all of us as forgiven and redeemed.  The contradiction to that, there is nothing in all of humankind that God cannot see, understand and use to change us and the world around us.  In the naked, broken and bleeding body of Christ on the Cross, all of humanities’ ways, sins, foolishness, pride and stupidity is made visible.  On the other hand, none of that means that God loves any one of us any more or less.

If there is one thing that we can contemplate about the Cross today, what will that look like?

I see God with arms forever outstretched to embrace us all.  I hear God say, “Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.”

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Maundy Thursday Reflection: What Is It Really About?

WashingFeet

“And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.” (John 13:3,4 NRSV).

The name Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin word mandatum.  The word contains the root of the English word for “mandate” or “command”.  On this Maundy Thursday we commemorate not only Jesus instituting the tremendous Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, but the new commandment of Jesus to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 1:34,35).  Meaning that the Eucharist in and of itself is incomplete if we do not live into its meaning in our every day lives.

The mysteries of our Christian Faith are all awesome and beautiful.  Contemplative prayer and even centering prayer for the Christian comes from the graces we receive during this Holy Week.  The very gift of our faith in the various aspects of the Christian Religion are life changing.  As well as they should be.  However, if all they remain are mysteries that we contemplate; yet we do not bear the fruit of the vine who is Jesus Christ in those we serve with humility; that which we contemplate is a mere abstraction and nothing more.

On this Maundy Thursday, Jesus commands all of us to make what we believe into a living reality.  Is it any wonder that as part of St. Benedict wrote in The Rule in Chapter 53 The Reception of Guests; among the things he asks the community to do when receiving guests is to wash their feet?  St. Benedict wanted the community to experience the meaning of the cross and the commandment of Jesus by doing what He commanded.

How will we not only observe but live into the meaning of Jesus’ commandment to love one another as He loves us?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

Holy Wednesday Reflection: What Do We Do With Judas?

Judas

At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples– the one whom Jesus loved– was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.”  (John 13:21-32 NRSV).

I have on various occasions struggled with Judas.  Traditionally, Judas is the one who betrayed Jesus.  Such is written in Sacred Scripture.  On the other hand, Judas also did what God wanted him to do in helping to bring about the salvation of the world through Christ, did he not?  Is it possible that we are missing the point?

As I searched for images of Judas to use for this blog post, the only ones I could find depict him kissing Jesus in betrayal.  A loving gesture with an ulterior motive.  Our problem is that we are focusing on Judas, when the person who really did the most loving thing in the story is Jesus.  Our Gospel story of Jesus at the table with Judas, as well as the scene during which he kisses Jesus all tell us something very important.  Jesus still loved Judas.

As we meditate on this Holy Wednesday as we prepare to begin the Sacred Triduum of Easter, we might reflect just a bit on how committed are we to love everyone around us.  Do we give others, even those with whom we are in conflict a true kiss of peace?  Do we accept and love those who give kind gestures to us with ulterior motives?

What example of Jesus will we give today?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB