Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers

Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC


January 22nd, 2023

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time


Frost & Fire, 1985

Now the coolness, now the spring,

Gone all craving and desire,

Now the shade by waters sweet

Without end


Now the anthem soaring high,

Gone the fear of flight and dance,

Now more joy, inspired strains

Without end


Now the Bridegroom’s healing touch,

Gone the aching loneliness,

Now the kiss, restoring life

Without end


Now the Light, how searing bright!

Gone the shadows of the night,

Now the blaze, resplendent flames

Without end


Now the glory of His face,

Now the splendid feast divine,

Now all love and tenderness

Without end


Elizabeth-Anne Stewart


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* What does it mean to "dwell in the House of the Lord"?

* What blocks your consciousness of the Divine Presence?

* What rivalries does St. Paul condemn in 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17?

* Where in your life do you experience the Light of Christ?


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Greetings, SBT Readers!

In recent weeks, I have been haunted by the images of missing or murdered children that flit across my computer screen every time I log on. In some cases, the children were abducted by total strangers but in others, parents, grandparents and other care givers inflicted unspeakable horrors on those in their charge. I find myself wondering how anyone can be so filled with darkness that they take pleasure in snuffing out the light in young lives. Perhaps such cruelty is only possible when people either cannot see their own light or else have descended so deeply into darkness that for them light no longer exists. Just as it is possible to be filled with the Light of Christ, so it is possible to be filled with hatred for all that is good, true and beautiful. This descent into a state of "hell" does not happen over night, however. It begins with harboring anger, resentment, and self-loathing; it intensifies with passive aggression, lack of empathy and narcissistic tendencies; it boils over with escalating verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Someone on this journey to hell loses touch with the "real self" and instead becomes a caricature of what it means to be human. Disconnected from love, compassion and the Divine Life, this lost soul is now capable of every conceivable crime -- including those against the most vulnerable and defenseless among us.

Happily, the converse is also true. When we ascend the Holy Ladder towards God, we embrace the Light, rung by rung, prayer by prayer, good deed by good deed. Come, let us be people of Light, ready to illumine the world!

Many Blessings!



Link to the Sunday Readings

R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The Lord is my saving light;

whom should I fear?

God is my fortress;

what should I dread?

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

One thing I ask the Lord;

one thing I seek:

To live in the house of God

every day of my life,

caught up in God's beauty,

at prayer in God's temple.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

I know I will see

how good God is

while I am still alive.

Trust in the Lord. Be strong.

Be brave. Trust in the Lord.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Ps. 27

I don't often select the Responsorial Psalm as the text for my Sunday reflection, but this week I am struck by how well Ps. 27 bridges the gap between Is 8:23—9:3 and Mt 4:12-23.

Isaiah tells us that anguish has taken flight, that darkness is dispelled, that gloom and distress no longer oppress the land. Then he breaks into song, singing strains that transport us back to the Christmas Vigil:

"The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom

a light has shone."

According to the Christian scriptures, this Light is the Christ. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus begins his public ministry precisely when it seems that the forces of darkness have been victorious. John the Baptist has been arrested, the people are without a shepherd and, in this time of loss and persecution, the wicked king answers to no one. There is absolute gloom, anguish and darkness, but having confronted the Evil One during his 40 days in the desert, Jesus is now ready to take on where John left off. Like the Baptist, Jesus urges the people to repent, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." His message, however, is not of a coming apocalypse but of the immersion of God in the human reality.

As healer, teacher, preacher, and exorcist, Jesus sets free those who are bound by spiritual and physical limitations, inviting them to SEE with new eyes and to experience God's reign within the context of their own lives. His message is that despite the Roman occupation, despite Herod's ruthlessness and paranoia, despite the hardships of everyday life, it is still possible to live in "God's House," that is, in the Light of God's Presence. No external situation can hold anyone back from resting in God's embrace. Seen from this perspective, his miracles not only bring healing, but also open hearts and minds to a new way of living: Heaven is not just a destination but a state of being.

Perhaps the first disciples follow Jesus precisely because his message is so different than anything they have heard before. His words mesmerize them, burning their hearts, expanding their minds. In his company, the world of boats and fishing nets suddenly seems small and insignificant; even family obligations cannot hold them back when they hear, "Come, follow me!"

Those words have echoed through the ages into our own time. Like Peter and Andrew, James and John, we suddenly see the "smallness" of our lives when we settle for a material existence; at the same time, "Come, follow me!" invites us to see beyond our problems, setbacks, losses and disappointments and to enter God's House. At home in God's Light, we experience that Beauty beyond all description; prayer ceases to be obligation but is every breath, every thought, every action. With Christ as our saving Light, we have nothing to fear...

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that sanity will prevail and that all those

suffering on account of the terrible conflict in Ukraine

will find the comfort and resources they need.



This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. Most sessions are on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate in-person or "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.

Spiritual Direction

Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | |

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,

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