Silence

Like members of a symphony orchestra, we each have our part to play, adding to a wonderful tapestry of sound. Yet being saturated in too much sound can lead to overstimulation, turning what was beautiful into noise. Over time, we can become addicted to this noise and our senses become dulled. We need times of silence so that the music stays fresh.

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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A practice for your day:

Make time today for silence. Can you unplug from media, devices, and other stimuli that crowd your day? What do you notice when you do?

Offer

We must pray our lives, and offer up to Jesus our isolation, grief, anxiety, and helplessness. Hear Jesus’ invitation: ‘Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.’

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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A prayer for your day:

Lord Jesus, you know the pain of being human. Sometimes it feels too heavy for me, but I know that you are strong enough to bear my burden. I offer you my heavy heart.

Ask

You may be heading into Lent with the feeling of not having had an epiphany – that is, you’re not sure how God is working in your life. If this is the case, then don’t panic. Take your questions to God in prayer. Ask Jesus to shed some light in your life, to transfigure it, and then be patient.

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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The Blessing of Awareness – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

Luke 6:17-26

In this morning’s gospel reading, we hear Luke’s version of what we know as The Beatitudes. Beatitude, from the Latin beatus, is defined as: a state of utmost bliss, and is synonymous with felicity, gladness, happiness, joy, and especially blessedness. It is the word blessed which we hear at the beginning of each statement Jesus gives. In Matthew’s gospel, we hear a longer version of the Beatitudes which comes from a sermon Jesus gives to his followers, known as the Sermon on the Mount. It is this version I remember hearing each year when Franco Zefferelli’s epic “Jesus of Nazareth” was broadcast on TV just prior to Easter. You may remember Zefferelli’s strikingly incongruous Anglo Jesus with crystal blue eyes delivering the Beatitudes to a great crowd assembled around him, augmented by the uplifting sound of a string orchestra, giving the moment a dramatic sense of beauty and hope.

Luke’s version, known as the Sermon on the Plain, is spare with only four Beatitudes. Besides the location and brevity of Luke’s version, the other difference is that each statement of blessedness is balanced by a woe, emphasizing two rival ways of human conduct and the reversal of human values that we hear throughout Luke. The gospel writer sets the scene by telling us that people had come not only from Judea and Jerusalem, but from the coast of Tyre and Sidon. Traditionally, we understand the gospel writer of Luke to himself be a Gentile, outside the covenant between God and Israel. Where Matthew’s gospel is written for a community of Jewish believers who are asking questions about how their belief in Jesus intersects with the faith of their upbringing, Luke is proclaiming the promise of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, outside of Judaism. What do we notice about these Beatitudes and their subsequent ‘woes’ in Luke? Let me suggest two things: Read More

Mirror

Jesus’ gospel message was that we were all created in the image of God, with the capacity to mirror the same loving-kindness that is God’s essence. We show this by following his example: by being merciful, engaging each other with compassion, listening to each other intently, and when necessary asking God for the courage to speak truth to power.

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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Force

Instead of meeting force with force, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up in the face of evil and said: “No! We cannot keep doing this to each other. We are not each other’s enemies.” He answered Paul’s call to arms: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God: Jesus Christ.

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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Expectations

Lay down your expectations at Jesus’ feet, put your hands together and receive the sustenance that Jesus desires for you. Jesus has come to transfigure our expectations and help us realize our vocations as children of God. This is the rock and the foundation on which He is building his Church.

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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Incarnation

The mystery of the incarnation is not an isolated event in history but is ongoing. We have found favor with God to reflect His life, light, and love to the world. We may experience fear at the prospect of such an awesome vocation, but Jesus will give us the provision to carry out that vocation.

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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Letter from the Editor

“It’s hard not to look at the ground as you walk, to set your sights low and keep the world spinning, and try to stay grounded wherever you are.” So John Koenig, author of The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, defines his neologism astrophe: the feeling of being stuck on Earth. “But every so often you remember to look up and imagine the possibilities, dreaming of what’s out there.” 

What an amazing paradox: being grounded in a specific time and place and yet being able to look up and stare across time and space into the abyss of infinity. Pondering this, it dawns on me anew how mysterious life is. Even though we live in the age of information, where science is at the helm driving us to truth, the more intelligible life becomes, the more it seems to mystify me.  Read More

Compassion

It is all too easy to turn away from the reality of the deep darkness and evil in this world. It is understandable that we desire our Christmas trees earlier and earlier each year; to rinse the bad taste of all that troubles us out of our mouths, replacing it with the taste of peppermint. But we cannot follow the way of Jesus unless we are willing to look into the heart of darkness and exhibit compassion for those we meet there.

-Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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