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Writings by Harry Martin

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Lent

The Story of a Soul ~ Nicodemus

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Our Lenten journey of growing closer to God brings us to the 4th Sunday of Lent.  And for our Lenten path God has provided bright and beautiful light from His Word.  It is in His light we see the story of a soul and we see lessons for the story our soul can experience.

Our first reading sets the scene of the people of Israel over the ages.   A people of faith and a people who also, sadly, fell away from their faith when they did not allow the graces of God to grow and change, convert,  their lives.  These are the people, much loved by God, to whom Jesus came and proclaimed His Kingdom.  They are the same beloved souls to which the Psalm testifies that they mourned for their spiritual home in their exile because of sin.

The epistle for today moves the scene of our story to see a people being redeemed by God and growing in His graces learning the call of God to reign with Him, to know and experience that our souls   “…are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance that we should live in them.”

The scene is now set for us to now meet the two main individuals of our Gospel for this day:  Jesus and a man name Nicodemus.  To better appreciate and learn from this encounter between a human soul and God  Let us better acquaint ourselves with this Nicodemus.

Nicodemus is a man whose story is only shared in the Gospel of John.  The fact that he is not mentioned in the three synoptic Gospels is not that he was unknown to Matthew, Mark or Luke.  It is very possible that this silence, from these much earlier Gospel writers, may have been  in recognition of his faith and the perils of faith in the Jewish world at that time.  John’s gospel, written decades latter may have been able to share these insights  into Nicodemus as he may have gone on to his eternal reward.  The Gospel does show Nicodemus was a man of significant stature among the Hebrew people of Jesus’s time.  He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin and a man well taught in the laws and courts of his day, reminding the enemies of Christ that anyone accused is entitled to be heard and fairly tried, (John 7)    Nicodemus was also a man of wealth.  As seen when Joseph of Arimathea sought to bury the Body of Jesus in his tomb it was Nicodemus who brought 100 Roman pounds of herbs and spices for His burial, an amount as Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, fit for a royal burial. (John 19). But it is in the Gospel for today we learn the most about the story of Nicodemus.   Although well educated, socially, very successful and wealthy he hungered for more. 

It was to Jesus he came, secretly, in the dark of night to LISTEN, TO BE BORN AGAIN, CONVERTED and grow on to SERVE God.  Nicodemus comes to with Jesus, humble, courageous in his questions, thirsting to hear the Truth of God.  And, Nicodemus LISTENED.  As he listened his faith grew and he was converted.   But Nicodemus had only begun his faith journey with God.  Allowing God to conquer his fears of his peers he would find those fears converted to courage in facing those who sought condemn Jesus.  And it was God’s grace that would bring this powerful man to serve His Savior in love and faith as he brought the herbs and spices for His burial.

Nicodemus, the story of a soul encountering God, repeatedly.  And allowing God to change, convert him from a fearful servant of sin to a humble servant courageous in the love of God.

And so God sent His Son for each of us, to meet, to truly listen to, with hearts hungering for His Truth and celebrate the faith journey of ongoing conversion.  An for each of us to learn, as St. Paul reminded us earlier:  we “…are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance that we should live in them.”

 

With You, Jesus

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“Go forth and I will bless you.” God called to Abram. Abram would go with God to find the promised land, to discover his real identity…Abraham, father of the the faithful.
“Jesus led them up a high mountain…” Peter, James and John would go with Jesus to experience the Mount of Transfiguration; a mountain top experience that would help them journey to another mount of even greater promise and power.
“He saves us and calls us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to His design.” We hear St. Paul’s words affirming we each, too, called to follow..to be with our Lord. But…

Where are we going? As individuals? As family? As a parish?

With You, Jesus… Called to His Promise “The Lord is true to His sacred promise; He led His people to freedom and joy.” As God called and led Abram and his family, so Jesus calls to each of us to be with Him, to follow, to know, His promises… of mercy, healing freedom. To experience and share the Kingdom of Heaven now and for all eternity, with You, Jesus.

With You, Jesus… Called to His Presence. The Mount of Transfiguration teaches we must never be content with our understanding, relationship, vision of Christ. There is such infinite power and grandeur, beauty and mercy, truth and justice in, with God. And God calls us..by name to follow..to be..His. He call us to experience the power of the Almighty in the paradox of His whispers..to, as John the Beloved, listen to the very heartbeat of God and be led to the Eucharistic, the Real Presence of our Lord. And are brought To be..With You, Jesus.

With You, Jesus…Called to the Cross. It was from the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus would lead the disciples to learn of the other mount they would be called to climb. Well might our plans and works be interrupted by Jesus’s call to us to take up our cross. And beside our own it may be, like Simon to help carry the cross of another in their trials or sorrows. But it is in each step, each station of our cross we discover we are not alone. We find..Jesus with us.

Where are we going?
With You, Jesus… called to Your promise!
With You, Jesus, called to Your Presence!
With You Jesus, called to the cross
and the joy and freedom of Your resurrection Presence!

Homily 2nd Sunday of Lent ~ 12 March 2017

Lent ~ Discoveries of Prayer

Second Sunday of Lent
16 March 2014
Homily ~ Cyber Version

Lent ~ Discoveries of Prayer

How many of us, during the day or before coming into the church checked to see if there was any emails or text messages that perhaps we were expecting?   We are a people who have come to expect others to be messaging us, in some shape or form.

Now, how many of us, during the week, or perhaps coming to Mass, walking into the church expect to hear from God?  Maybe we think God is too busy.   Maybe we think God has no need or great desire to speak to me.  Or perhaps we are afraid of what God may ask or speak about.  Are we afraid of those discoveries to be made in prayer.

God does long to speak to our hearts and lives.   Christ, present in the readings of Scripture this day clearly expresses accounts and examples of how, this powerful season of Lent, we can grow in discoveries of prayer, of God, of ourselves.

Prayer ~ Talking to God: 
For many we understand prayer as “saying our prayers”, i.e., talking to God.  With faith and blessing we say the rosary, the Our Father, or the Stations of the Cross.  We tell God of our needs and hopefully our thanksgivings.  In our    Gospel reading we see Peter, James and John taken by our Lord, to the Mount of Transfiguration.  There Peter seems to understand this is a time and place for prayer.  And he starts talking, a lot.  Our Heavenly Father, hearing Peter’s chatter, interrupts.   This brings us to ask..does God need to interrupt our prayers to get a word in edgewise?  It shows us what we miss by failing to listen, by not watching…Him.  How often do we come to a moment, time or place of prayer, rattle off what our intentions are and then rush on without really looking to God or hearing a reply?

Prayer ~ Watching & Listening:  We are, as disciples of Christ are called to follow Him.  To watch and listen, to His way, His Will,  His purposes.  We see this relationship illustrated in the roles acted out in such dramas as Downtown Abbey.  The footmen, the butler, ladies maids are all and always attentive to their masters.  They tend to their tasks often with no verbal direction from their lord and his household.   They watch and they listen.   Sadly in our prayer life we miss this grace, profoundly and often tragically.
In our Old Testament reading we witness God speaking to Abram, telling him to follow His guidance to the promised land.  In that era of primitive faith Abram knew how, knew to..watch and listen for God.  Times have changed. God has not.  As it was in Abram’s day, as it was that day on the Mount of Transfiguration, God yearns for our attention.  And it is in that faith, the listening in the silence that we learn to hear God speaking, in the Scriptures, in creation, in and through the fullness of His Eucharistic Body and His Body of we we are.

Prayer ~ Responding to God: 
It is as we seek to watch and listen, as we share our hearts  of hope or wounds that Jesus calls us to respond to Him.   God the Father, speaking in the cloud clearly spoke to the disciples, “Listen To Him”. The first words Jesus spoke after that command were simple and clear:  “Rise and do not be afraid”.  As God called the early disciples to rise from their fears, as God called Abram to rise from his earthly securities so God calls each of us, to rise, from our fears and follow Him to discover the promises of His Kingdom,  this season of Lent and for all eternity.
It is in our watching and listening that the response of our lives becomes the real Amen.

Ash Wednseday

Ashes placed upon the forehead,
mark the time of Lent begun.
Ashes placed upon the forehead,
Are the sign of penances sung.

From deep within our heart.
may we heed the call,
from our sins to turn away.
and in His Love find our all.

May we hear and heed
God’s Gospel to believe.
May His truth in mercy
sow redemption’s seed.

May we grow beyond,
these forty days of counting,
of things given up,
for Lent’s surmounting.

May we grow to know,
freedom real and lasting
in the Crucified Lord’s
embrace of love surpassing.

And in His Wounds of love,
Our wounds of life to share.
May His Cross point the way,
His Easter Light to share.

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