Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Holy Week. 2016 23rd March -betrayal is always painful

23rd March



Francis rejecting the world

Scripture John 13: 21-32

21 When Yeshua had said this, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray me.”
22 The disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Yeshua loved, was at the table, leaning against Yeshua’s breast. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.”
25 He, leaning back, as he was, on Yeshua’s breast, asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Yeshua therefore answered, “It is he to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judah, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the piece of bread, then Satan entered into him.
Then Yeshua said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”
28 Now no man at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judah had the money box, that Yeshua said to him, “Buy what things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 Therefore having received that morsel, he went out immediately. It was night.
31 When he had gone out, Yeshua said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him immediately.


Reflection:

A betrayal is always painful, especially if it is done someone close to us. We ask questions that often have no answer, we can be left wondering, bewildered and hurt. Forgiveness is difficult, for some perhaps almost impossible. We can remain trapped in the emotions of the betrayal, or we can move beyond them. A difficult choice, but one we can make, remembering, of course, that Christ who knew betrayal, will accompany us on this life saving path.


Your thoughts:


(C)Br. Luke Efo 2010
Final Words:


We have reached the end of our Lenten journey with the Scriptures.

Through these past weeks, there have been challenges for us to face. Perhaps some difficult questions that we’d prefer to avoid, or not think about. Yet, our faith, like our lives, is never static. It is fluid, constantly changing, reminding us of a flowing stream.

The Scriptures we explore will mould us. When we read them, we may get a new insight, or different perspective on what we have read, or experienced previously. We may be reaffirmed in what we have read before. We should not be concerned about this movement. For when we open ourselves to the Scriptures, we open ourselves to the movement of the Holy Spirit. When we give ourselves, space and time, then the eternal message of love will be renewed and reborn within us.

We rejoice, that we have the presence, the ever the revealing nature, of our loving God in our lives.



Reflection

Do you worry if you get a different perspective on the scriptures each time you read them? If so, why?


Your thoughts:

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Holy Week. 2016 - be “children of light”

22nd March

Francis rejects the world


Scripture John 12: 20-36

20 Now there were certain Greeks amongst those that went up to worship at the feast. 21 These, therefore, came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we want to see Yeshua.” 22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn, Andrew came with Philip, and they told Yeshua. 23 Yeshua answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there my servant will also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.
27 “Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this time?’ But I came to this time for this cause. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came out of the sky, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
29 Therefore the multitude who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
30 Yeshua answered, “This voice hasn’t come for my sake, but for your sakes. 31 Now is the judgement of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die. 34 The multitude answered him, “We have heard out of the law that the Messiah remains forever. How do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?”
35 Yeshua therefore said to them, “Yet a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness doesn’t overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” Yeshua said these things, and he departed and hid himself from them.


Reflection:

In verse 36, Jesus encourages us to be “children of light”. We can be swamped by the darkness that seems to be all around us. We can become confused into believing, and the world desperately wants to believe, that the light has been extinguished, or is very close to it. This is, of course, not true. The light has not gone out, it is still burning brightly. We see darkness when we take our eyes off the light. Look at the light, and draw strength, courage, confidence and love from its unquenchable source.

Your thoughts:

Monday, 21 March 2016

Holy Week. 2016 - Judas could not see the act of love

21st March


Francis rejecting the world
Scripture John 12: 1-11

1 Then six days before the Passover, Yeshua came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him. 3 Therefore Miriam took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed Yeshua’ss feet and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 Then Judah Iscariot, Simon’s son, one of his disciples, who would betray him, said, 5 “Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?” 6 Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the money box, used to steal what was put into it. 7 But Yeshua said, “Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me.”
9 A large crowd therefore of the Judeans learnt that he was there, and they came, not for Yeshua’s sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Judeans went away and believed in Yeshua.


Reflection:

Judas could not (or would not) see the act of love, he saw only a waste of money. So he castigated Mary, perhaps expecting Jesus, or the other disciples at least, to support him. Imagine then, his surprise when Jesus defended Mary. Have you followed a course of action, certain that yours was the “correct” interpretation, only to discover you were wrong? What caused you to be “wrong”? Pride, arrogance, stubbornness, or narrowness of mind? Would you do it again?

Your thoughts:

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Lent 6. 2016 20th March - St Luke’s telling of the passion


20th March


Scripture Luke 23:1-49

1 The whole company of them rose up and brought him before Pilate. 2 They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting the nation, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Messiah, a king.”
3 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
He answered him, “So you say.”
4 Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
5 But they insisted, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee even to this place.” 6 But when Pilate heard Galilee mentioned, he asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he found out that he was in Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days.
8 Now when Herod saw Yeshua, he was exceedingly glad, for he had wanted to see him for a long time, because he had heard many things about him. He hoped to see some miracle done by him. 9 He questioned him with many words, but he gave no answers. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood, vehemently accusing him. 11 Herod with his soldiers humiliated him and mocked him. Dressing him in luxurious clothing, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before that they were enemies with each other.
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one that perverts the people, and behold, having examined him before you, I found no basis for a charge against this man concerning those things of which you accuse him. 15 Neither has Herod, for I sent you to him, and see, nothing worthy of death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore chastise him and release him.”
17 Now he had to release one prisoner to them at the feast. 18 But they all cried out together, saying, “Away with this man! Release to us Barabbas!”— 19 one who was thrown into prison for a certain revolt in the city, and for murder.
20 Then Pilate spoke to them again, wanting to release Yeshua, 21 but they shouted, saying, “Crucify! Crucify him!”
22 He said to them the third time, “Why? What evil has this man done? I have found no capital crime in him. I will therefore chastise him and release him.” 23 But they were urgent with loud voices, asking that he might be crucified. Their voices and the voices of the chief priests prevailed. 24 Pilate decreed that what they asked for should be done. 25 He released him who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Yeshua up to their will.
26 When they led him away, they grabbed one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it after Yeshua. 27 A great multitude of the people followed him, including women who also mourned and lamented him. 28 But Yeshua, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to tell the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and tell the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things in the green tree, what will be done in the dry?”
32 There were also others, two criminals, led with him to be put to death. 33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified him there with the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
34 Yeshua said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Dividing his garments amongst them, they cast lots. 35 The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself, if this is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”
36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
38 An inscription was also written over him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
39 One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, “If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us!”
40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 He said to Yeshua, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 Yeshua said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. 45 The sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 Yeshua, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, he breathed his last.
47 When the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous man.” 48 All the multitudes that came together to see this, when they saw the things that were done, returned home beating their breasts. 49 All his acquaintances and the women who followed with him from Galilee stood at a distance, watching these things.


Reflection:

This is St Luke’s telling of the passion. It is painful to read and moves us, like those who witnessed it, from bewilderment and anguish to grief. Jesus’ death and resurrection is important for Christians and has been a focus of Christian art for centuries. It is also the event that people who stridently reject the faith will deny, reject and perhaps even ridicule. But these strident aggressive reactions simply mirror, echo, those of the people who centuries ago foolishly thought that by crucifying Jesus, they had removed Jesus and God’s message from the earth.

If we are seduced into seeing Jesus’s crucifixion as an ending, like the thieves and those calling for Jesus death did, or his resurrection as a beginning. then we completely miss seeing the path of salvation. Jesus’ life and ministry on earth was, and is, not simply a unique event, but rather it is part of God’s relationship with us and with creation.

God’s love didn’t start or end with Jesus’s life on earth. It started at creation and is still going. In Jesus, God gave to us humans the practical example of how to live a life of love. This practical example is something we needed to have. Sadly, today it seems that we have forgotten the example. We are being seduced into believing other journey’s and paths are more important, more meaningful, more relevant and more valid. These other paths don’t speak of love but the opposite and strive to make themselves the predominant message, or way of life.

Remember what Jesus said. “even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20: 28). So, the practical way to live the two great commandments (love the Lord your God and love your neighbour) is through service.

Your thoughts:

Lent 5. 2016 19th March-Jesus threatened the power and authority of the religious leaders



19th March


(C)Br Luke Efo. 2010
Scripture John 11: 45-57

45 Therefore many of the Judeans who came to Miriam and saw what Yeshua did believed in him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things which Yeshua had done. 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, “What are we doing? For this man does many signs. 48 If we leave him alone like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he didn’t say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day forward they took counsel that they might put him to death. 54 Yeshua therefore walked no more openly amongst the Judeans, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim. He stayed there with his disciples.
55 Now the Passover in Judea was at hand. Many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought for Yeshua and spoke one with another, as they stood in the temple, “What do you think—that he isn’t coming to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had commanded that if anyone knew where he was, he should report it, that they might seize him.


Reflection:

The power and authority of the religious leaders had been threatened, and in some ways challenged, by Jesus. They had to act to re-establish, or enforce, their control. It is the same today. When our leaders feel challenged, they react by removing those they object to, often justifying their actions by first demonising the group or individual. Have you seen this process at work recently? How did it affect you?

Your thoughts:

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Lent 5. 2016 18th March -the Father is in me, and I in the Father

18th March


(C)Br Luke Efo 2010
Scripture John 10: 31-42

31 Therefore the Judeans took up stones again to stone him. 32 Yeshua answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?”
33 The Judeans answered him, “We don’t stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy: because you, being a man, make yourself God.”
34 Yeshua answered them, “Isn’t it written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods?’ 35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture can’t be broken), 36 do you say of him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God?’ 37 If I don’t do the works of my Father, don’t believe me. 38 But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
39 They sought again to seize him, and he went out of their hand. 40 He went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where Yochanan was immersing at first, and he stayed there. 41 Many came to him. They said, “Yochanan indeed did no sign, but everything that Yochanan said about this man is true.” 42 Many believed in him there.


Reflection:

“But if I do them, though you don’t believe me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (verse 38) It is in the way we live our lives that people will become to understand and believe we are followers of Christ. There are, or course, always going to be people who use our faith to accuse us, when they consider that we have fallen short of their ideals. Yet we are not asked to be perfect, just to believe and do.

Your thoughts:

Lent 5. 2016 17th March - Jesus was challenging their faith

17th March


(C) Br. Luke Efo 2010
Scripture John 8: 51-59

51  Most certainly, I tell you, if a person keeps my word, he will never see death.”
52 Then the Judeans said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, ‘If a man keeps my word, he will never taste of death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who died? The prophets died. Who do you make yourself out to be?”
54 Yeshua answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is our God. 55  You have not known him, but I know him. If I said, ‘I don’t know him,’ I would be like you, a liar. But I know him and keep his word. 56  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day. He saw it, and was glad.”
57 The Judeans therefore said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old! Have you seen Abraham?”
58 Yeshua said to them, “Most certainly, I tell you, before Abraham came into existence, I AM.”
59 Therefore they took up stones to throw at him, but Yeshua was hidden, and went out of the temple, having gone through the middle of them, and so passed by.


Reflection:
Jesus was challenging their faith.  He confronted their understanding of God and then of who he was.  It was for them, blasphemy.  They became angry and wanted to be rid of him. Have you ever told someone about your faith and then found yourself facing an angry, perhaps violent person? Do you know why they became angry? What was it your profession of faith, the manner in which you told them, or a recognition that perhaps you had something they lacked? How did you handle their aggression?



Your thoughts:

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Lent 5. 2016 16th March - "If God were your father"

16th March

(C)Br. Luke Efo 2010
Scripture John 8: 31-42

31 Yeshua therefore said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How do you say, ‘You will be made free’?”
34 Yeshua answered them, “Most certainly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is the bondservant of sin. 35 A bondservant doesn’t live in the house forever. A son remains forever. 36 If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s offspring, yet you seek to kill me, because my word finds no place in you. 38 I say the things which I have seen with my Father; and you also do the things which you have seen with your father.”
39 They answered him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Yeshua said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham didn’t do this. 41 You do the works of your father.”
They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father, God.”
42 Therefore Yeshua said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven’t come of myself, but he sent me.


Reflection:


42 Therefore Yeshua said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I came out and have come from God. For I haven’t come of myself, but he sent me.” Jesus is highlighting the mismatch between what the people were claiming and what they were doing. It is the same today. Often what we say and what we do, do not connect. Jesus reminds us to keep the connection between the two strong and to focus on God, not ourselves.

Your thoughts:

Monday, 14 March 2016

Lent 5. 2016 15th March - He who sent me is with me

15th March



(C) Br. Luke Efo 2010
Scripture John 8: 21-30

21 Yeshua said therefore again to them, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sins. Where I go, you can’t come.”
22 The Judeans therefore said, “Will he kill himself, because he says, ‘Where I am going, you can’t come’?”
23 He said to them, “You are from beneath. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”
25 They said therefore to him, “Who are you?”
Yeshua said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you. However he who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I say to the world.”
27 They didn’t understand that he spoke to them about the Father. 28 Yeshua therefore said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing of myself, but as my Father taught me, I say these things. 29 He who sent me is with me. The Father hasn’t left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”
30 As he spoke these things, many believed in him.


Reflection:

“He who sent me is with me. The Father hasn’t left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (verse 29) Jesus was talking about his relationship with the Father. Are we as confident in our relationship with God? In those dark times when we may know that we should turn to, and not away from God, do we say with such surety “he has not left me alone”? Given so many stumble at that time, I suspect the answer for many of us is no. We can be confident, it is hard work, but be strong and trust.

Your thoughts:

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Lent 5, 2016 14th March - an excuse to condemn

14th March



(C)Br Luke 2010
Scripture John 8: 1-11

1 but Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Now very early in the morning, he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him. He sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the middle, 4 they told him, “Rabbi, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in our Torah, Moses commanded us to stone such women. What then do you say about her?” 6 They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of.
But Yeshua stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, “He who is without sin amongst you, let him throw the first stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger.
9 They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Yeshua was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle. 10 Yeshua, standing up, saw her and said, “Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?”
11 She said, “No one, Lord.”
Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more.”


Reflection:

Those gathered were looking for an excuse to condemn, both the woman and Jesus. Have you ever wondered what Jesus wrote with his finger? Could it have been the sins that the people standing around had committed? We are not comfortable when confronted by the reality of our sins? We often try to avoid taking the blame, always finding some excuse or reason why it happened? Jesus asks us to admit, face them, and then, filled with grace and forgiveness start again. The crowd dispersed when faced with their own sins. Jesus forgave the woman and us - if we let him! Will you?

Your thoughts:


Lent 5. 2016 13th March - Whenever we live a gospel life

13th March



(C)Br Luke Efo 2010
Scripture John 12: 1-8

1 Then six days before the Passover, Yeshua came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him. 3 Therefore Miriam took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed Yeshua’s feet and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 Then Judah Iscariot, Simon’s son, one of his disciples, who would betray him, said, 5 “Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?” 6 Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the money box, used to steal what was put into it. 7 But Yeshua said, “Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me.”


Reflection:

Whenever we live a gospel life, or do something that shows our commitment to help others, there will always be people like Judas, who will find fault with our actions. Some of these people may even be close to us. We can give into their criticisms and stop living our lives. Or we can remain true to our calling, to our vocations, to our commitment and see the actions to the end. Which do you choose?

Your thoughts:

Lent 4. 2016 12th March - miracles and teachings were not enough


12th March



(C)Br Luke Efo 2010


Scripture John 7: 40-52

40 Many of the multitude therefore, when they heard these words, said, “This is truly the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some said, “What, does the Messiah come out of Galilee? 42 Hasn’t the Scripture said that the Messiah comes of the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So a division arose in the multitude because of him. 44 Some of them would have arrested him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 The officers therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, “Why didn’t you bring him?”
46 The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man!”
47 The Pharisees therefore answered them, “You aren’t also led astray, are you? 48 Have any of the rulers believed in him, or of the Pharisees? 49 But this multitude that doesn’t know the Torah is cursed.”
50 Nicodemus (he who came to him by night, being one of them) said to them, 51 “Does our Torah judge a man, unless it first hears from him personally and knows what he does?”
52 They answered him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search, and see that no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”


Reflection:

The miracles and teachings were not enough, they needed proof that fitted with their expectations, their knowledge of the “law” or their painstaking studies. When they did not find what they expected to see, they judged and ultimately condemned him. When one sticks rigidly to one’s expectations, one will often miss what is all around. The people knew, but the people were treated with contempt. What about you? Do you stick rigidly to your expectations, or can you see beyond – into the mystery that is God?

Your thoughts:

Lent 4. 2016 11th March -They sought therefore to take him

11th March

Scripture John 7: 25-30


25 Therefore some of them of Jerusalem said, “Isn’t this he whom they seek to kill? 26 Behold, he speaks openly, and they say nothing to him. Can it be that the rulers indeed know that this is truly the Messiah? 27 However we know where this man comes from, but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he comes from.”
28 Yeshua therefore cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know me, and know where I am from. I have not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you don’t know. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
30 They sought therefore to take him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.


Reflection:

"They sought therefore to take him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come." His listeners did not want to believe what they were hearing. They had set their minds on another course of action and so were deaf to the message being proclaimed to them. They actively looked for reasons not to believe. We can be like this, but when we do, we are not listening to the message but to the voices that want to drown it. Be diligent and look and listen to Jesus, not the loud competing, earthly voices.

Your thoughts:

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lent 4 2016 10th March- You search the Scriptures

10th March


(C)Br. Luke Efo 2010


Scripture John 5: 31-47

31 “If I testify about myself, my witness is not valid. 32 It is another who testifies about me. I know that the testimony which he testifies about me is true. 33 You have sent to Yochanan, and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man. However, I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of Yochanan, for the works which the Father gave me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about me, that the Father has sent me. 37 The Father himself, who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. 38 You don’t have his word living in you; because you don’t believe him whom he sent.
39 “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. 40 Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life. 41 I don’t receive glory from men. 42 But I know you, that you don’t have God’s love in yourselves. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you don’t receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God?
45 “Don’t think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, even Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me. 47 But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”


Reflection:
"You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me". The words we find in scripture can enlighten, teach, guide and strengthen us. They can open for us, help us understand, that which was for centuries, hidden. But for some they do a lot more. For some they show us, invite us to enter into, the essence of faith, of belief – they show us the path which enables us to experience the Divine. But we have to be willing to walk that path, to take the words and believe them. For many today this seems impossible. What about you?

Your thoughts:

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Lent 4, 2016 9th March- to believe “him who sent me"



(C)Br Luke Efo 2010


Scripture John 5: 17-30

17 But Yeshua answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” 18 For this cause therefore the Judeans sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. 19 Yeshua therefore answered them, “Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise. 20 For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires. 22 For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgement to the Son, 23 that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who doesn’t honour the Son doesn’t honour the Father who sent him.

24 “Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgement, but has passed out of death into life. 25 Most certainly I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God’s voice; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself. 27 He also gave him authority to execute judgement, because he is a son of man. 28 Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, 29 and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgement. 30 I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgement is righteous; because I don’t seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me.





Reflection:

Notice that in hearing Jesus we can make a choice to also believe “him who sent me”. It’s a choice. Jesus is speaking about his relationship with the Father. There are, I suspect, some people who, today, will be as uncomfortable with what Jesus claims, as perhaps the people of Jesus’s day were. There are some who will hear and not believe, and others who will believe regardless. Some will explain the relationship away and others who will simply say the relationship is no longer relevant. Yet Jesus’s words serve as both an explanation and as a warning. Jesus makes it clear the relationship of him to the Father, is also a connection to judgement and eternal life. Do you agree?


What do you think






Monday, 7 March 2016

Lent4. 2016 8th March-The sick man answered him



8th March


(C)Br. Luke Efo 2010


Scripture John 5: 1-16
After these things, there was a Jewish festival, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralysed, waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel went down at certain times into the pool and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Yeshua saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.”
Yeshua said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.”
Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked.
Now it was the Sabbath on that day. 10 So the Judeans said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.”
11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’”
12 Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat and walk’?”
13 But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Yeshua had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place.
14 Afterward Yeshua found him in the temple, and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.”
15 The man went away, and told the Judeans that it was Yeshua who had made him well. 16 For this cause the Judeans persecuted Yeshua, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath.


Reflection:
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” (Verse 7) Imagine how you would feel if each time you tried to do something that would heal you, someone pushed you aside and took your healing. Imagine, if you will for a moment, the frustration and hopelessness he must have felt. We could say that we would help him, and not push him aside, but would we?  If we were there for another, would we really help him or those we were with?

Your thoughts:

Lent 4.2016 7th March-Jesus had healed his son

7th March
(C)Br. Luke Efo 2010


Scripture John 4: 43-54
43 After the two days he went out from there and went into Galilee. 44 For Yeshua himself testified that a prophet has no honour in his own country. 45 So when he came into Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all the things that he did in Jerusalem at the feast, for they also went to the feast. 46 Yeshua came therefore again to Cana of Galilee, where he made the water into wine. There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Yeshua had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to him, and begged him that he would come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 Yeshua therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will in no way believe.”
49 The nobleman said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Yeshua said to him, “Go your way. Your son lives.” The man believed the word that Yeshua spoke to him, and he went his way. 51 As he was now going down, his servants met him and reported, saying “Your child lives!” 52 So he enquired of them the hour when he began to get better. They said therefore to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Yeshua said to him, “Your son lives.” He believed, as did his whole house. 54 This is again the second sign that Yeshua did, having come out of Judea into Galilee.


Reflection:
John tells us that the nobleman believed Jesus had healed his son, and started his journey home.  To trust that what we ask for, we will receive, can be hard to do. We, like the people of Jesus' day, want proof. We look for some sign (in many ways like a receipt for an item purchased) to show us that we will get it. When we don’t (or it doesn't come fast enough) then, we are tempted to think asking is waste of time, or that it is not coming. When you think like this, remember the nobleman and his son.

Your thoughts:





Sunday, 6 March 2016

Lent 4. 2016 6th March-The prodigal son eventually realised

6th March

(C)Br. Luke Efo 2010


Scripture: Luke 15:11-32

11 He said, “A certain man had two sons. 12  The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of your property.’ He divided his livelihood between them. 13  Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and travelled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living. 14  When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. 15  He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16  He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any. 17  But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough to spare, and I’m dying with hunger! 18  I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. 19  I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.” ’
20  “He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21  The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23  Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let’s eat, and celebrate; 24  for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ Then they began to celebrate.
25  “Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26  He called one of the servants to him, and asked what was going on. 27  He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.’ 28  But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore his father came out, and begged him. 29  But he answered his father, ‘Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30  But when this your son came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
31  “He said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32  But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.’ ”


Reflection:
The prodigal son eventually realised that he had lost a lot more than just money and he returned home.  He no doubt expected that his father to react the way his brother did.  His angry brother did not expect their father’s compassion and forgiveness.  Which reaction do you practice: the elder brother’s or the father’s

Your thoughts:



Saturday, 5 March 2016

Lent 3. 2016 5th March - God be merciful to me a sinner

5th March


(C)Br. Luke Efo 2010

Scripture: Luke 18: 9-14
9 He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others. 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortionists, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn’t even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


Reflection:
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (part of verse 13). The tax collector knew himself. He knew his failures, he was honest with himself and then he was honest before his God. No vain glory, no prideful attempt to gloss over his faults by listing his piousness, there was just an open and honest admission. When was the last time you went to God like the tax collector?





Your thoughts:

Lent 3. 2016 4th March -you shall love your neighbour as yourself

4th March


(C)BR.Luke Efo 2010

Scripture Mark 12: 28-34
28 One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?”
29 Yeshua answered, “The greatest is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30  you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31  The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 The scribe said to him, “Truly, Rabbi, you have said well that he is one, and there is none other but he, 33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Yeshua saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from God’s Kingdom.”
No one dared ask him any question after that.


Reflection:
“The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (part of verse 31). It is probable that we can all identify who our neighbours are. We can also probably say, with the knowledge we have of the gospels, how we should treat them. Yet we often fall very sort of this commandment.  Have we, in our hedonistic western culture centric view, forgotten how to love ourselves, (without being narcissistic or ego-centric) and so our neighbour has no hope? Or is that we now simply don’t care?

Your thoughts: