Accompany Him – Good News for March 30

30 03 2010

John 13:21-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.

One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot.

After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.”

Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

The Daily Path: In my final reflection on Jonathan Burstein’s amazing painting titled “Church” I want to think of this man sitting on the steps as Judas. Once brought close to the light of Christ, he now finds himself outside facing the dark journey that awaits him. The glow of Christ remains on Judas back, and will do so even as he betrays the love of Jesus. As we know, this will be the final torment on earth for Judas, who will ultimately take his own life.

This is a troubling image for me. No matter how bad things get in my life or how weak I am, I pray that I will never forget God’s love. Even if I “deny Him” I pray that somehow I will always find the strength to turn back into the light of Christ and ask His forgiveness.

The accounts we’ve read over the past few weeks provide so much food for thought. As with any great story, we are led to the end yearning for deeper insights and understanding. The readings of Holy Week are so powerful. Full of symbolism and meaning. This is truly the “Greatest Story Ever Told” and each of us are a part of it. For the remainder of Holy Week 2010, I encourage you to take time to walk with Jesus in Scripture. Accompany Him during these hours. Follow the Son to the Father and see what unfolds in your life.

Turn towards His light.

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Mary or the Iscariot? – Good News for March 29

29 03 2010

John 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.

So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

The Daily Path: Who will we choose to emulate today? Mary or Judas?

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Sanhedrin – Good News for March 27

27 03 2010

John 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.”

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him. So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?”

The Daily Path: Today I have to consult my Scripture for Dummies Process – aka: Google. When reading the Gospel I often find terms that I know absolutely nothing about… yes, yes, I hear you… I should have paid closer attention during my twelve years of parochial school! Today’s Google quest: What was the Sanhedrin?

According to Shira Schoenberg of The Jewish Virtual Library, the Sanhedrin was the ancient Jewish court system. The Great Sanhedrin was the supreme religious body in the Land of Israel during the time of the Holy Temple. It dealt with religious and ritualistic Temple matters, criminal matters appertaining to the secular court, trials of adulterous wives, tithes, preparation of Torah Scrolls, drawing up the calendar and the solving of difficulties relating to ritual law. It was the final authority on Jewish law and any scholar who went against its decisions was put to death as a rebellious elder. The Sanhedrin judged accused lawbreakers, but could not initiate arrests. It required a minimum of two witnesses to convict a suspect. There were no attorneys. Instead, the accusing witness stated the offense in the presence of the accused and the accused could call witnesses on his own behalf. The court questioned the accused, the accusers and the defense witnesses.

I hope this helps as we move into Holy Week and read of what Jesus will have to endure.

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Gordo’s Light – Good News for March 26

26 03 2010

John 10:31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.

The Daily Path: Here is a wonderful story that a good friend shared with me yesterday…

It’s about a young man by the name of Gordon who a number of years ago was stricken with MS. For those of us who don’t know, MS – multiple sclerosis – affects the ability of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to communicate with each other. Eventually all the motor functions shut down because the brain can no longer get messages out to the rest of the body. Sadly, there is no known cure for MS.

Gordon, is cared for in a Southern California assisted living facility. Each day members of his faith community come to spend time with him and to feed him his meals as he can no longer do this on his own. Often these are parishioners who have never met Gordon, yet wish to share some love. He struggles to communicate with family and friends as his speech has become slurred. However, “Gordo”, as he is known, has an amazing gift of communication. One that far exceeds what most humans are capable of.

Gordon an extraordinary gift of prayer. He prays in a powerful voice that enables miracles to occur in the hearts of men and woman. Gordo prays for the one thing that matters most… conversions. He asks God to open the minds and hearts of many who come into his life. And the Father is listening carefully because this young man has an amazing success rate. Over 100 people who’s names Gordon has lifted up have since embraced God into their lives!

To my mind, Gordo has been deeply blessed with the Spirit. Though his body withers, he knows God as few of us with healthy bodies will ever be able to in this life. Through physical challenges, God shined his light on Gordon. He in turn allows it to shine through him so that others will be touched by its glow.

John tells us of the signs that Jesus provided so that “many there began to believe in him.” His signs remain all around us, still at work each day. In this amazing young man named Gordo, we find yet another.

Room to Chat: Father, thank you for the sign you provide in Gordon. Help each of us to use the challenges we face on earth to draw closer to you and bask in your light. Hold Gordo tight this day so that he may continue to inspire all of us to continue on the journey home.

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Accepting the Light – Good News for March 25

25 03 2010

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Daily Path: The angel brought news of God’s light to a young virgin. She freely accepted this light, knowing nothing of the “how” only that this was God’s will and that was enough for her.

In Burstein’s “Church” painting, that I’ve been focusing on this week, we see a great light casting its warm glow on the back of a person sitting just outside a church. As I reflected on this painting it reminded me of Luke’s gospel. When I stop to think about it, the light we see in this image is not unlike my own experience with God’s call. The light was ALWAYS shining on me, but for so long I chose to sit outside – ignoring the opportunity to step inside – and missing out on the chance to be fully bathed in its glow.

When the light hit Mary she walked right in with the great gift of perfect acceptance. I took decades to get my rear up from the steps I sat on, turn towards the light, and accept his love. But once I did, God’s light immediately penetrated my heart. To me, this re-conversion has been nothing short of miraculous.

I know that NOTHING is impossible for God.

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Recognizing the Son of Man – Good News for March 23

23 03 2010

John 8:21-30

Jesus said to the Pharisees, “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”

He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?”

Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.

So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

The Daily Path:When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM…”

So often we learn the lesson too late. Jesus was lifted up on the cross and only then, at his death, did Longinus, the Roman centurion present at the crucifixion, recognize that truly Jesus was who he said he was… the Son of God. Again, I look at this painting and wonder how many times I have sat beside Jesus but did not recognize Him.

Church by Jonathan Burstein