The Week of May 27, 2018
Trinity - 2018
Brief reflections on the
week’s Scripture readings.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
(from Mt 28:16-20)
Pondering the Word… “They
worshipped, but they doubted.”
wondered about this strange line from Matthew’s Gospel. Some translations read,
“They worshipped, but some doubted.” I did a little research and came
across this amusing excerpt from Dr. Mark Allen Powell book, Loving Jesus:
... The word some
is not actually found in the Greek Bible. Why is it in the English version? …I
asked a Bible translator one time and got the following response: "The verse
wouldn't make sense otherwise. No one can worship and doubt at the same time." I
invited this fellow to visit a Lutheran church.
We do it all the time.
Jesus knew the
Apostles doubted. It’s no surprise. All that had happened since his Resurrection
was so far outside the realm of human understanding. Jesus knew of their doubts,
and he commissioned them anyway; in fact, it just might have been their
willingness to worship despite their doubts that turned out to be the best
testament to their faith!
Scripture scholar and professor,
M. Eugene Boring, writes
about this same verse:
"Whatever the nature of
the Resurrection event, it did not generate perfect faith even in those who
experienced it firsthand. It is not to angels or perfect believers, but to the
worshiping/wavering community of disciples to whom the world mission is
Dr. Boring uses the present tense: it is to us--a ‘wavering, but still
willing to worship’ community of believers—that is entrusted Christ’s
mission of evangelization! What an honor to join the imperfect ranks of the
first disciples in this awesome task!
Faith is “a
firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” It seems to me, as light
is often defined in relation to darkness, faith can be similarly defined in
relation to doubt. Abraham doubted, Moses doubted, Mary doubted, Joseph doubted,
but they all followed God’s will anyway. And for that, we hold them in the
highest esteem. If you find yourself in the throes of doubt at times, take
heart. Turn to the communion of saints who accompany us on our earthly journey
and ask them to strengthen you so you can worship and follow despite your
doubts. Never forget: They, along with Jesus, are with you always, until the end
of the age.
"It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than
for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
it comes to putting broken lives back together… the human best tends
to be at odds with the holy best. To do for yourself--to grit your
teeth and clench your fists—is, by that very act, to be unable to
let something be done for you and in you. The trouble with steeling
yourself against the harshness of reality is that that same steel
also…secures your life against being opened up and transformed by
holy power. You can survive on your own. You can grow strong on your
own. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human
on your own. Surely that is why, in Jesus’ sad joke, the rich man
has as hard a time getting into Paradise as that camel through the
needle’s eye because, with his credit card in his pocket, he is so
effective at getting for himself everything he needs that he does
not see that what he needs more than anything else can be had only
as a gift. He does not see that the one thing a clenched fist cannot
do is accept, even from ‘le bon Dieu’ himself, a helping hand.”
(Adapted from The Sacred Journey, by Frederick Buechner)
“Be holy in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be
holy because I am holy.’”(1 Pt 1:10-16)
Pope Francis’ most recent exhortation is exactly
this: A universal call to holiness. We may have preconceived images
of what “holy” looks like, and have a hard time seeing how we, as
people who work and live in the “real world,” could ever be
considered holy. The Pope dispels these images: “the important
thing is that each believer discern his or her own path...’to take
up your role as salt of the earth and light of the world wherever
you find yourselves.’” He prays for us: “May you come to
realize… the message of Jesus that God want to speak to the world by
your life.” I urge all people of good will to read “Gaudete et
Exsultate. “ It is wisdom and encouragement, an antidote for an
ailing world in desperate need of holiness.
we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."(Mk
You gotta hand it to James and John--at least they’re
honest! I like that they are comfortable enough with Jesus to
address him so directly. And Jesus answers them directly. Perhaps we
could learn something here. When you pray, approach Jesus as a
friend. Be honest and direct. Then be open. Listen for his answer.
and sisters: Let love be sincere… anticipate one another in showing
In the Catholic tradition, today is the Feast of the
Visitation. Mary, newly pregnant, learns of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,
and travels “in haste” to support her cousin. She anticipates and
honors Elizabeth’s needs. I love Paul’s words here, to “anticipate
one another.” I can find myself on autopilot some days, unaware of
others. How can I anticipate another’s needs when I fail to even
recognize them? Today, let’s see if we can be a little like Mary.
Look around. Take time to learn another’s story. Anticipate their
needs and honor them, loving them sincerely. (And remember, the
other’s need is often not for your words or actions--just your
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he
could find anything on it…And he said to it in reply, "May no one
ever eat of your fruit again!"
Jesus is in a bad mood, but can you blame him? He has
entered Jerusalem for the final time. He has looked around the
temple grounds and seen the buying and selling. Like the fig tree in
leaf, Jerusalem gives the appearance of religious fervor, but at
closer inspection, it has no fruit to offer. It is all a façade. The
fig tree is a metaphor. While it is fine to appear holy and pious,
if we have no fruit to show for it, we are doomed to wither away.
Let’s make sure our faith is not a façade, but brings forth good
fruit for God’s Kingdom.
“On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out
of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the
outer garment stained by the flesh.”
(Jude: 17, 20b-25)
Jude is both advising and cautioning the new
Christian communities about false prophets and those within their
communities that have fallen away. There are some who just need
gentle mercy to lead them back to Christ; others may need a stronger
hand. In either case, it is imperative that those in the role of
helping others strengthen themselves, lest they fall into sin as
well. It’s important we not succumb to pride. We are sinners, not
saviors. There is only one who can save souls. But we can reflect
God’s love and mercy, inviting the other to seek that mercy for
© 2017, Elaine H. Ireland. “Come and
Reflections are available at
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Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
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