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Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin

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Lenten Journey

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

The Journey of Lent ~ Called to God’s Mountain

[The cyber-version of my homily for this 2nd Sunday of Lent]
Scripture Readings:
Gn.12:1-4; Ps. 33:4-5,18-19,20,22; II Tim. 1:8-10; Mt. 17:1-9

Sometimes when we travel we find it helpful or perhaps necessary to stop and figure out where we are and where we are intending to go. This may well cause us to change our direction and re-focus on our goal. It is in this journey of faith, in our lives as Christians, that we would do well to stop, take stock of where we are and where it is Christ seeks to brings us. This is the essence of the season of Lent. It is in today’s Bible readings that we see and hear God doing this very thing with His people.

From where we are called: In our first reading we see God calling Abram from the land of his kinfolk to the land of God’s promise. We hear God’s promise to Abram that as he follows in faith God’s promises will be his.
So it is with each of us. God calls us out from the land of our fallen humanity to come to the land of His promise, life in the Kingdom of God. As it was for Abram, so it is for each of us. This is a journey of faith, trusting in the guidance, providence and grace of our God. It is also a journey that as we follow we discover our true, full name, that person god has created, called us to be.

Called to God’s Mountain: In the Gospel we see the disciples, led by Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration. It, again, is a journey of faith that wearies their human strength. Yet in following they are brought to see, to know Christ as they never have before. Their realization of the saints, the power and dimension of God’s Kingdom are forever changed. But this power-filled revelation brings them to collapse in fear and awe before the majestic power and beauty of God. So it is as we allow God to lead us, we are brought to the fearful realization of our failings…and God’s majesty…This is the journey of Lent, the journey of the faithful as we seek to follow the Shepherd of our souls. And it was from this mountain that Jesus would lead His disciples to another mountain where they would even more powerfully see and know the majesty of His love.

It would be at the Mount of Calvary, where our Lenten journey will end that we too will be called to enter into His love at the Cross and the joy of His resurrection on Easter morning. It is as we each follow our Lord this season of Lent, and every day of our lives, that with His disciples we can know His touching us as He calls to us “Rise and do not be afraid”.

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