Conversing with God – Br. Jack Crowley

Br. Jack Crowley headshot

Br. Jack Crowley

Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 106:6-7, 19-23

Moses was the star of the show this morning. The hero who stood in the breach defending his people from God’s wrath. I can’t imagine how Moses must have felt, walking down Mount Sinai with two stone tablets in hand, being verbally interrupted by God to find out his people had turned astray.

One of the many things I love about Moses was his verbal relationship with God. I use that word verbal intentionally. Moses and God had a lot of conversations. Starting from being called from the burning bush on Mount Horeb, all the way to Moses’ last moments on Mount Nebo with God lovingly telling Moses how his people would reach the promised land. Moses and God had this beautiful back and forth verbal relationship that blossomed over time.

These conversations were not always easy. Moses had the courage to speak to God truthfully, but Moses also had the stamina to listen to what God had to say – even when God was angry. Moses grew from being a man too afraid to speak to Pharaoh directly, even though God directly told Moses to do so, to being a man who verbally defended his people straight to God’s face. Read More

Open Eyes, Burning Hearts – Br. Lain Wilson

Luke 24:13-35

“Jesus himself came near and went with [the disciples], but their eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Lk 24:15-16).

Stop and think about that. “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” This was the man whom these two disciples had chosen to follow, the man for whom these disciples had given up their jobs and left their families. His good news defined their reality. And suddenly he was gone, brutally executed, his body now missing from his tomb. Imagine how they must have felt.

I can imagine these two disciples, shocked and confused by the recent events, walking down the road. I can imagine them praying the words of our psalm this morning: “The cords of death entangled me; . . . I came to grief and sorrow” (Ps 116:2). I can imagine their eyes, taking in their surroundings but not really seeing them. Is it surprising, really, that they perhaps failed to see what was right in front of them?

But is there something more going on? After all, their eyes were kept from recognizing Jesus. The word translated as “kept” can also mean to hold, to seize, to restrain, to arrest. It’s a forceful word. The disciples don’t just fail to recognize Jesus; they are actively hindered from knowing that this man walking and talking with them is their Lord and teacher, risen from the dead. Disciples in other accounts may not recognize Jesus immediately, but only here are they kept from recognizing him. Only here are the disciples’ eyes made to be closed, to be unable to perceive the reality in front of them.

So what’s happening here? In the way the evangelist distinguishes seeing from perceiving, I am reminded of how Jesus, quoting Isaiah, explains the purpose of parables: “to you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand’” (Lk 8:10, quoting Is 6:9-10). This seems to be what is happening here. These disciples look at the man accompanying them, but they do not perceive him. Read More

The Life You Share with the Blessed Virgin Mary – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistThe Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Matthew 1:18-25

This Gospel account speaks of Jesus’ miraculous birth; however our celebration today remembers the miraculous birth of his mother, Mary. There’s no record of this in the Scriptures. The best we can do is found in the Gospel of James, which dates back to about year 145. The Gospel of James is “apocryphal,” i.e., it doesn’t have the authority of the Scriptures but it does give us an early picture of the piety that developed around Jesus’ mother, Mary. According to the Gospel of James, Mary’s parents, Anna and Joachim, fervently prayed and prayed for a child, to no avail. But then they received a miraculous promise from God that Anna would conceive a child, and this child would herald God’s plan of salvation for the world. God was especially present in Mary’s life from the beginning. Two second-century teachers, Saint Irenaeus and Saint Justin Martyr, who lived at the same time as the Gospel of Thomas appeared, wrote that if Jesus is the new Adam, then Mary, his mother, is the new Eve.[i]  Saint Augustine, writing in the fifth century, said that through Mary’s birth and the birth of her son, Jesus, the nature we inherit from our first parents Adam and Eve is changed from “original sin” to “original blessing.”[ii]  Mary, then Jesus, change everything. Read More