Reflection Masthead
Issue 149 - Beyond the Bounds - March 2017

We all live within certain limits. Some limits are imposed by laws or societal norms. 
Others are set by our fears, by common sense, or historical tradition.
Whatever else you may think about Jesus, he was someone who pushed the limits.
What might that mean for us?

Failure to Be Astonished 
Certainty is the enemy of faith.
In John 5, Jesus is accosted by Jewish leaders for breaking the Sabbath. After some back and forth, Jesus says that the Father will show even greater works than this, "so that you will be astonished" (Jn 5:20 RSV).
Don't bet on it. The Pharisees of Jesus' day are often portrayed as meticulous rule-keepers, legalists intent on following every letter of every law. There is certainly some truth to this portrayal, but it may miss a deeper truth. As Genevieve Glen writes, "No matter how carefully and thoroughly we think we have defined God, ... God escapes and becomes once again the uncontrollable 'more.'"*
The Pharisees suffered from a failure of imagination. They were certain, dead certain, that they had God all figured out, not realizing that the living God was always beyond their grasp. Even when Jesus worked miracles right before their eyes, they failed to be astonished.
For some of us, Lent is a time of meticulous rule-keeping, avoiding sweets, doing this or not doing that. These ascetic disciplines have their value, just as the Pharisees' observance of the commandments also had value. But the heart of faith is not obedience. The heart of faith is wonder, astonishment, gratitude, and awe.
May this Lent be a time to stretch our imaginations, to loosen our grip on some of our certainties. May this Lent be a time to open ourselves to wonder and astonishment.
                                                                       --by Bill
*Genevieve Glen, OSB, Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent, 2017 (Liturgical Press), p. 63.

Not Far Enough
          This morning's shared devotional reminded Bill and me that "Jesus' opponents...would walk to the edge of the religious facts they trusted, but they would walk no farther, even though Jesus was right there holding out a hand, with crowds of healed sufferers behind him." *
          This meditation comes while I am preparing to present the Ignatian Twilight Retreat on Gethsemani: Agony and an Angel. At the retreat, we will consider the Gospel story of Jesus bringing his disciples with him to the Garden. But the disciples do not go far enough. They do not keep watch.
Dormant Disciples
They do not open their eyes to Jesus' pain, they do not open their ears to hear Jesus call out to his Father for a release, they do not open their hearts to Jesus' agony. Just imagine! Jesus falling to the ground in sorrow and distress; the disciples had walked to the edge and no farther. If the disciples had stayed close to Jesus, how would his agony in the garden been different? 
          How often do I walk to the edge of a friend in agony but no farther? Would my presence make a difference to a friend - or stranger - in need? Do I stay a stone's throw from Jesus by my busyness or fear or resistance to spending more time in prayer? Jesus is holding out a hand - do I not go far enough?      --by Jan
*Genevieve Glen, OSB, Not by Bread Alone: Daily Reflections for Lent, 2017 (Liturgical Press)

You are invited to attend the upcoming Ignatian Twilight Retreat April 10-12. 
Three evenings to step away from a busy life, share a meal, and enjoy times of 
reflection and prayer, 6:00-9:00 PM at Oblate Renewal Center in San Antonio. 
Click here for brochure and registration information.

Stay Here - Remain and Pray
Stay Here - Remain with Me - Watch and Pray

Consider Jesus in the Garden.
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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries