My mother was an unpaid fortune teller. She could read our palms and tell us about certain things which were going to happen very soon in our family, and they did! The different lines in our hands meant different things and she had visions, it seemed to us, for each short and long line, amazing! Some predictions came into our realities that very day, but some took a bit longer, two or three days. It is astonishing how mothers know so much.
We can and do relate with the motherly God Who knows everything and we want to know even a little bit about the future - our futures. God knows everything and the question remains about whether or not we have personal freedom or are we mere puppets. If this be true then God would will that some be terrible sinners and others saints and freedom has nothing to do with our lives and choices.
I just checked my palm to see if I had a clear and perfect vision of an answer for all this. We are preparing for our celebration of the weekend’s Eucharist. We extend our hands, just as we did as children, but now to receive the pledge of Christ’s being with us as we walk into our futures without having visions for clarity, but faith as a vision of the sacredness of the now-moments.
Faith does take practice. We can do that by extending our hands into the future and wait to see what life-lines are written there. We prepare for celebrating the “Mystery of our Faith” by living through the mysteries of our lives.
The chapter from which our First Reading is taken begins with the prophet Ezekiel being dropped down into a valley of dried bones. He breathes, or pronounces, over them and they rejoin into whole bodies. These bones are the whole House of Israel exiled from their homeland in Babylon.
What we hear in our reading is a follow-up prophesy. God will be opening the graves and will call out those who have died. Again, this is directed toward the whole people in exile. God announces that God will do it all, bring them out and send them back to their homeland.
The land is a sacred presence and it is the second time God is bringing Israel out of exile or bondage. We are invited more than twice to return to the Sacred Presence of the very Ground of our being. Abandonment is not God’s way, but constantly inviting us out into life is God’s relational pattern.
We have a long Gospel today with several important aspects. Here are a few reflection possibilities you may ponder about just what this whole story is about.
The above-mentioned elements are spread all through this entire chapter from John’s Gospel. There was a man of blindness presented so Jesus could be “seen” and seen as the “one Who had been sent.” There was hunger and a lack of bread so that Jesus could be taken in or received interiorly. There was thirst so that Jesus could be revealed as “Living Water.” Here there is death so that Jesus would bring “life” to this world.
These stories of Jesus’ doing miracles all end with some kind of statement of belief. “Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what He had done began to believe in Him.” The theme of “come and see” which begins the Gospel creates the dramatic energy within each story. The rising action leads the reader or listener to a similar affirmation of believing because of, and also beyond the signs/miracles.
We, the Church, and those about to enter the Church, are invited to believe in Jesus as the Savior, the One Who is still sent, the Embrace of God for our clayful humanity. Next Sunday is the First Passion Sunday at the beginning of which there will be the recalling of the palms spread in welcome of Jesus into Jerusalem. If we are heading toward the celebration of His Resurrection two weeks from today, we are asked to reflect on our faith which invites us to and through our own Passion Sundays, Mondays and on. Following Jesus will always put us in conflict with the injustices, cruelties, invitations to walk other paths and take the Jerusalem bypass.
We will be comforted by the apostles’ abandoning Jesus and how Jesus searches for them and finding them, He sends them to live the Good News. In reading stories of the early and now recent martyrs, we wonder what we would do if such things happened to us. Many believers live the daily martyrdom of fidelity. Faith is a tremendous gift which bypasses the head and somehow allows the soul to confound the demands of reason and emotion.
Whenever we are gathered together in a faith community, we are surrounded by faith-tested persons who also have gone out and beyond the tombs of their own temptations and sufferings. Jesus called Lazarus, the apostles, the man blinded, the adulterous woman, and the others to believe, not only in Him, but in their being sought out and sent out to live their beliefs.
“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” Ps. 130, 1
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