from solitude to communion

 The Walk to Emmaus / Ilyas Basim Khuri Bazzi Rahib/ CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus,
you alone can reveal to us
the riches of God’s solitude
in the communion of persons.
 
Alone in the desert
and alone in Gethsemane,
alone on your cross,
between men who were alone on theirs,
you assumed everyone’s solitude
within yourself
so that everyone might commune
with God.
 
O God of encounters,
may each of us 
in his desert
detect a sign of your presence.
With you,
may each of us be
for his brothers
a travelling companion
in the fellowship of the Father
and the Spirit.
 
Lord Jesus, 
by taking part
in your death and resurrection,
we pass from solitude to communion.
 
Pierre Talec, 1933- 2016, French priest and author
 
______________________
 
 
So they approached the village where they were going. 
He acted as though he wanted to go farther, but they urged him, 
“Stay with us, because it is getting toward evening and the day is almost done.” 
So he went in to stay with them.

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But I confess that you are God

image / Lawrence OP / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
With all my heart I worship you, O hidden God.
You who hide yourself behind the things of your creation.
My heart submits to you, and so does my mind.
Compared with contemplating you, all else is nothing.
I cannot touch you, taste you, see you.
All senses are cheated of you – except the ear.
Your Son has spoken, and I believe.
Nothing has truth beyond the word I hear.
On the cross your divinity was hidden,
And now on earth you humanity is hidden,
But I acknowledge you and cry to you.
I do not gaze, like Thomas, on your wounds,
But I confess that you are God.
Give me a stronger faith, a surer hope,
And a deeper love for you, my Lord.
You gave us a memorial of your dying
In the living Bread that gives life to men.
As I eat your bread, may you live in me.
And may I always turn to you for strength.
O Christ, who gave your heart for all men,
Cleanse my sin in your blood which was spilt.
A single drop of it would save the world,
Cleansing every man from his foul guilt.
A veil is over your face, I cannot see you.
I cry to you to show me yourself,
To let me see you face to face.
With that vision my soul will be at peace.
 
Thomas Aquinas, 1225 – 1274, Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian
 
___________________
 
 
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

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O wondrous power of the cross!

Bonnat Crucifixion Detailsdalry / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
 
O wondrous power of the cross!
O unspeakable glory of the passion 
    which became the Lord’s tribunal, the world’s judgment, 
    and the power of the Crucified!
From Your cross You draw all things to Yourself, O Lord!
When You stretched out Your hands to an unbelieving people that mocked You,
    the whole world was finally brought to confess Your majesty. . . .
In this way type gave way to truth, prophecy to revelation,
    the ancient law to the gospel.
You drew all things to Yourself, Lord, 
    so that what previously was performed 
         in the one temple of the Jews in mystic signs
    is now celebrated everywhere by holy men
         in every country in revealing rites. . . .
Your cross is the font of all blessings, the source of all graces,
    and through it the believers receive strength in return for weakness,
    glory in return for shame, life in return for death.
 
Pope Leo the Great, c.400-461, influenced the Chalcedonian Creed and Attila the Hun
 
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So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

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the scene of Christ’s suffering

image / wallpaperuse
 
Great God, our Father:
As we call to mind the scene of Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane,
    our hearts are filled with penitence and shame
    that we foolishly waste our time in idleness
    and that we make no progress in the Christian life day to day. . . 
We are ashamed that war and lust flourish and grow more rampant every day.
Forgive us for our cruel indifference to the Cross,
    and pardon us that, like the bystanders of old,
    we merely stand and gaze in idle curiosity
    upon the pitious scene.
O teach us, we beseech thee, the good news of thy forgiveness.
Cause humanity, degenerate as it is, to live anew,
    and hasten the day when the whole world shall be born anew.
 
Toyohiko Kagawa, 1888-1960 Japanese Christian pacifist, reformer, and labour activist
 
__________________________
 
 
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, 
and he said to them, 
    “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, 
and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 
Then he said to them, 
    “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. 
    Stay here and keep watch with me.”

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the new commandment

Jesus washing Peter’s feet by Sieger Koder / Jim Forest Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
 
Jesus, you gave us the new command to love each other 
    just as you loved your disciples.
We are eager to imitate you in loving our brothers and sisters, but like Peter,
    our efforts are often more words and good intentions 
        than action and sacrifice..
We want to offer ourselves fully in friendship
    but when the relationship becomes costly we disengage.
We want to reach out to those different from ourselves
    but tend to stay within our safe routines.
And when relationships lead to hurt or betrayal 
    we withdraw to protect ourselves
    and fail to keep your commandment.
You know this about us.
You know that we are weak and made of dust.
 
Oh, pour out an extra measure of faith upon us!
Strengthen us with the supernatural ability to love just as you loved.
Enable us to present ourselves as living sacrifices in our relationships.
 
But more than that, bless our flawed, timid expressions
    and communicate them through your Holy Spirit,
    so that those who we begin to love, 
    know that, in fact, they are loved 
    completely
    by you
just as you loved your disciples, and us, unto the end.
 
EM
______________________
 
 
It was just before the Passover Festival. 
Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. 
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
 
A new command I give you: Love one another. 
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
 

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to follow you on the road to Jerusalem

Walking the Jesus Train /  Zeromancer44, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Servant Christ,
Help us to follow you on the road to Jerusalem,
    to set our faces firmly against friendly suggestions
    for a safe, expedient life;
    to embrace boldly the way of self-offering,
The way of life given for other’s gain.

Litany of the Disciples of Christ the Servant Andhra Theological College, India
 
_______________
 
 
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, 
“We are going up to Jerusalem, 
    and everything that is written by the prophets 
    about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 
He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. 
They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 
    they will flog him and kill him. 
On the third day he will rise again.”
 

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You justify the humble

Publican & Pharisee Icon
Publican & Pharisee Icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
 
Humility once exalted the tax collector,
    who bewailed his sin
    and cried: ‘Be merciful,’
    and was justified.
Let him be our example,
    for we have all fallen into the abyss of evil.
Let us cry to the Savior
    from the bottom of our heart:
  we have sinned, be merciful,
    for you alone love us.
 
Lord, you condemned the Pharisee
    who, boasting of his works,
    justified himself.
You justified the tax collector
    who, humbling himself,
    with sorrowful sighing asked for mercy.
For you reject proud hearts.
    but do not reject contrite hearts.
So in humility we prostrate ourselves
    before you, who suffered for us.
Grant us forgiveness
    and generous mercy.
 
From Orthodox Lent. Holy Week, Easter
 
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To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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strength to overcome the temptations

 ChristTempted / John Ritto Penniman / Wikimedia Commons
 
We thank you, Father, for those days in the desert when, 
    through prayer and fasting, 
    Jesus discovered your will for his life 
    and overcame the temptations of the Evil One.
Help us, during these days of Lent, 
    to come close to you and to listen to your voice.  
Give us strength to overcome the temptations 
    to please ourselves and live life without you.
Teach us your way.  For Jesus’ sake.
 
 
______________________
 
 
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,  where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
 

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to not undervalue ourselves

 Parable of the Talents / A.N. Mironov / CC BY-SA 4.0 
Eternal and most glorious God,
who hast stamped the soul of man with thine Image,
received it into thy Revenue,
and made it part of thy Treasure;
suffer us not to undervalue ourselves,
nay, so to impoverish thee
as to give away these souls for nothing,
and all the world is nothing
if the soul must be given for it.
Do this, O God,
for his sake who knows our natural infirmities,
for he had them,
and knows the weight of our sins,
for he paid a dear price for them,
thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
John Donne, 1572 – 1631, English poet, satirist, lawyer and priest
 
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Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
 
 
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

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be our guiding star

 image / pixy
 
God of all time,
who makes all things new,
we bring before you the year now ending.
For life full and good,
for opportunities recognized and taken,
for love known and shared,
we thank you.
 
Where we have fallen short,
forgive us.
When we worry over what is past,
free us.
 
As we begin again
and take our first steps into the future,
where nothing is safe and certain,
except you,
we ask for the courage of the wise men
who simply went and followed a star.
We ask for their wisdom,
in choosing to pursue the deepest truth,
not knowing where they would be led.
 
In the year to come, God of all time,
be our help and company.
Hold our hands as we journey onwards
and may your dream of shalom,
where all will be at peace,
be our guiding star.
 
Francis Brienen, United Reformed Church, UK
 
_________________________
 
 
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, 
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 
    “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? 
    We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

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