Day 104- The Mile I left the tomb

“And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.” Matthew 28:9

Two minutes before, the women were still at the tomb, afraid. The lover of their soul was not there, and they experienced a mix of fear and joy like never before. A healthy and reverent fear of God mixed with the joy of Easter, knowing that everything was about to change.

Easter was not spent at a temple or a church, it was spent at a tomb

Empty, cold and lifeless. And the first Easter included only two women, unknown to the world, and without titles or fame. Yet the Lord chose them as His resurrection disciples, why? To show the world that He chooses the weak things of this world to shame the wise. That forever and in eternity these women will  be known, loved, and adored by our resurrected King. In God’s economy, the weakest are the most powerful, for they hold the keys to the Kingdom.

Why did the angel first invite the women to see the inside of the tomb before he admonished them to go quickly into Galilee? Because one must spend some time inside of the tomb before experiencing the joy of Easter. And Jesus admonishes us to do the same.

This message can be lost if we do not fully transition ourselves from Lent to Easter. If we do not leave the emptiness of the tomb behind for something more. Jesus is telling us not to stay there. Not to stay in sadness and mourning, but to enter divine joy. 

This may be hard for us to do right now. Our Easters may have felt lonely and cold. We may have felt empty inside, missing friends and family, and our memories. Many people around the world were also ready to enter the church on Easter, and now find themselves still desperate and waiting for our Lord. This message is for them too.

Today, we are not at the tomb. Our emptiness must subside. Today, the Lord will meet us wherever we are, unable to move, moving or walking backwards. In that, get down on your knees and pay Him homage. If you are able to do that you are not inside the tomb, you are in the sunlight of Easter.

 

 

Day 101- The Mile I found Jesus

“But Peter stood at the gate outside.” John 18:16

Omission is just as bad as commission. Looking on or acting on. Looking away or looking towards. Our gaze determines our infidelity- where are we looking now?

One of my most beautiful and precious friends asked me this profound question yesterday, “why did He have to come?”

Of course she knew the answer to that question, but asked me from a Judaic perspective. I had to sit with that question for awhile as I made a pathetic attempt at an answer. But all I could muster up was my story.

I told her that in my own journey, my initial seeking after God became more religious in nature- wanting to keep kosher, keep the shabbos and invest myself in all of the Jewish regulations. The more I tried, the more I failed.  And in any event, as a woman, I would never be able to celebrate God in the way I knew Him, in the way I was trying to find Him. And these rules which I held so dear in my heart became chains, became snares. And I broke these chains in a sign of rebellion against those rules to find freedom. But freedom brought me great misery, brought me to loss, brought me to my knees.

And on my knees lost is where Christ found me 

I didn’t understand at the time how my answer had anything to do with the question she posed. Like Mary, I took it with me in the silence of my heart and let it sit, so as to be enlightened by God’s wisdom through the womb of His Blessed Mother. It was old to new. Death to life. Flesh to Spirit. But what was the answer to her question?

Why did God make me a Christian?

Peter was Jewish. All of the first disciples and communities were Jewish. Mary and Joseph were Jewish. And so was Jesus. 

Jesus grew up in an observant Jewish household. Went to temple. Worked. Studied. Was bar mitzvahed. Celebrated all of the Jewish holidays. Was part of the Jewish community. Until He taught them something new. Until He stood up for what was right. Until He taught them to observe the law in a way that they had never considered before. And for that they wanted to kill Him.

And so they handed him over, away from the only love and community that He had ever known. He was betrayed, beaten and ultimately crucified. And while the rest wrote him off as a blasphemer and traitor, his mother and dearest friend stood by him, so he was not alone.

And where were the rest of his disciples? They went into hiding. One unto another in their own separate hiding places, leaving their friend and Master to die. No matter that they had left Him, they were safe now. And the ties of friendship and community that had been built over a period of years was washed away. 

Our greatest tests come in times of great tragedy. Will we too abandon God?

I considered the story again from a Jewish perspective. I had been one of those in community. I had studied the Torah as much as I was permitted to and understood its precepts. I had gone as far as I was permitted. When I tried to follow farther, I was unable to- not because I didn’t want to, but because it wasn’t allowed. And in order to find God, I had to leave Him behind. But I didn’t. I carried Him with me unknowingly.

My whole search was filled with God. My travels, the people I met and the losses I suffered. Before I became a Christian, God had me walk through some high peaks and dark valleys.  I got married. The closest person in my life died, my beloved grandmother. I suffered through infertility and miscarriage. Then the birth of twins. Then another baby. A new job. My best friend left me. New friends came into my life. Then darkness and chaos. Then Christ.

Why did Christ have to come? He had to come so I could live. I can not answer this question for anyone else. The answer is personal and intimate and makes up the DNA of who we are in Him.

When we reduce that question down to a certain sect, religion, history or time it doesn’t work- it becomes cold and endless. Theologians debate it. Old and new covenants. Prophecies and fulfillment. They are all wonderful and intellectually stimulating. But they do not answer the question. They do not fill the soul.

On this Good Friday, the third night of Passover, ask yourself the same question.

Why did He have to come?

Your answer may surprise you…

 

Day 98- The Mile I read God’s Will

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” Yehuda Bauer, on Kristallnacht

There is always a moment, a space, a pause in time that we can put our finger on and pause to reflect on the moment that led to the moment.

When we look back and perform an examination of conscience on life’s past events, we can see that before an event took place, there was an event that sparked it, that catapulted it into the next universe. Raising our levels of consciousness in this matter takes patience, time, and openness to the message that God will give us.

The greater picture though are the events that we cannot stop from happening, not the ones we can. The ones where we are helpless, and can only watch from the sidelines. These become movies playing in our minds about what we could or should have done. But the fact of the matter is that traveling to those destinations should not produce in you the anxiety of the should’ve or would’ve, but rather a deeper understanding of who you’ve become and where you are going because of it.

We cannot rewrite these narratives

If we look back on the story of Judas, we often wonder why the Lord would have chosen someone that He knew would betray Him. We become angry and judge Judas for what He did to our Lord, selling his life away and making a deal with the devil. But every word in the scriptures, both the old and the new testament, has a place and purpose.

It is only when we stop and reflect on that purpose when our eyes become open  and we are able to watch God at work

As we sit back and reflect on today’s gospel reading, we remember that every soul on this earth has a purpose, a role to play in the story of salvation. Whether atheist or non-religious, Christian or otherwise, God is universal and uses every soul to write His story. Judas is no different. He is a man who went bankrupt- in spirit and in truth.

He is not unlike the rest of us

Judas’ betrayal becomes the catalyst for the events which place Jesus on a cross. One could say He is responsible for the arrest, torture and death of Jesus. But if you don’t stay in that space, if you make a pilgrimage in your mind to walk a little further, you can also say this.

Judas is responsible for the resurrection as well. 

Although he did not stick around to see it, he should have. Scripture says he killed himself instead. Marred with sorrow and grief, he took the responsibility of the world on his shoulders, and blamed himself unto death. Judas’ suicide was in fact an acknowledgment of his betrayal to God. It was not an act of sin, it was an act of sorrow.

We too can blame ourselves for the pain that we have caused our Lord. And if that were all, we would just stay in that place and not move. This does not produce any fruit, only worldly guilt, that only leads to self-doubt, anxiety and brings death where there should be life.

Godly sorrow always produces life while the world’s sorrow produces only death

If we stay in that dark night, in that betrayal, in that shame, we will find that there is no way out. Reflecting on Judas’ mistake should help us reflect on our own. But that reflection should bring us to that tree, the one where Judas took His life, and have us say, Lord help me die to self. Don’t let it be night in my soul.

We can live the events of Holy Week in a more profound way if we enter into the mystery, place ourselves in the story, and not judge the people that we read about. Both the Old and the New Testaments were given to us by God as a great gift. But more than that they were given to us as a last will and testament by God.

So today as you are opening up God’s word, remember you are opening up not only His will but His will, what he has left behind for us, a direction, a disposition of his property to us. And a will is not meant to be buried away, it is meant to be read, so that a person can determine what they get.

Don’t miss your opportunity to see what God has left you