The Meeting Place of Our Heart – Br. Nicholas Bartoli

Br. Nicholas Bartoli

Genesis 1:20-2:4

While growing up, I was fascinated by questions like “What does it mean to be a human being? What makes us who we are? Why are we the way are?” I would read a lot of sociology, anthropology, psychology, and probably a few more “ologies” I can’t remember at the moment. And it was all very interesting, if ultimately not quite as enlightening as I had hoped. And I remember often encountering one particular sort of statement about human beings that would always give me pause, a doubtful, skeptical kind of pause. It was the kind of statement that would compare humans, usually very favorably, to other forms of life on our planet. Continue reading

Fishing for the Fisher – Br. Keith Nelson

Br. Keith Nelson

Matthew 4:12-23

Jesus said, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.”

“Fishers of people” – in older translations of the Bible, “fishers of men” – is one of those phrases in the Gospels that I have noticed myself avoiding over the years in my meditation with scripture or when it surfaces in the lectionary. I don’t have much first-hand knowledge of fishing, but that’s not the source of the disconnect, because I don’t have first-hand knowledge of most activities and objects that were common in first century Palestine. When I hear the phrase “fishers of men,” I have mostly tended to think of a certain strategy of Christian mission legitimated by the imperative to “spread our nets” throughout the known world and “catch souls for Jesus” by any means possible. In other words, I think of mission malpractice, tightly interwoven with the history of British and American imperialism. So I have to sink deeper to hear these words from another angle, an angle that will yield the Life and Light I seek in these sacred pages. Thinking of myself or other people as fish is also challenging: fish out of water, hooked, confused, gasping for air and wondering how on earth they got from point A to point B.

But here I realize I’ve gotten ahead of myself. I do, in fact, have some personal acquaintance with fishing, lured up into my conscious mind by the words of today’s gospel reading. For your consideration, I offer you two brief stories from the “gospel of Keith.” Continue reading

Vultures and Corpses? – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299It may be difficult to imagine the Savior of the World being a mischievous tease, but there may be evidence of this in these very strange words. The disciples have asked a perfectly good question about what would later be referred to as the “rapture”. When some are taken, where will they be taken?  His answer: “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”  A bizarre non sequitur. A weird thought.

Commentaries struggle to make sense of this, offering a range of not very convincing interpretations.  I think it’s possible that Jesus was being intentionally obscure, even mischievous or playful.  We don’t know for sure what these words mean–which may be the point. We may  need to be comfortable with some level of obscurity in religion—and be wary of religion that is too tidy, too wrapped in neat packages, too sensible, too domesticated, too useful. Continue reading

God Made Us in the Image of His Own Eternity – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

GeoffreyYesterday was Veterans Day – also known throughout the world as Remembrance or Armistice Day.  It marks the armistice signed in Compiègne, France, between the Allies and Germany at the 11th hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918, which brought an end to hostilities on the Western Front in the First World War.  A time to remember with thanksgiving those who died in the two world wars. Continue reading

Spring Cleaning – Br. Mark Brown

Ex. 20:1-17; Ps. 19; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; John 2:13-22

Isn’t this a delicious, made-for-the-movies rampage? In the verses just before Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding—but only after being borderline-rude to his mother: “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come”. If in that episode he was standard bearer for cheeky young men, today he is patron saint of the hot headed.

He probably didn’t go all the way in with that whip of cords. The merchants and money changers would have been in the outer precincts of the Temple complex.  Herod had built an enormous platform with retaining walls for the Temple, which was surrounded by a broad plaza, divided into zones of access.  There was an outer Court of the Gentiles. Jewish women could get closer to the Temple proper.  Jewish men could enter the Temple, but not into the court of the Priests.  The High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, but only once a year on the Day of Atonement.  The Holy of Holies was the inner sanctum partitioned off by a great curtain. (The curtain rods of the baldacchino over our altar are a vestige of this.) Continue reading