A Biblical Reflection
by Ernest Varosi, C.R.
we pray and ponder the mystery of Jesus passion, death and resurrection
let us ask God to create a new heart in our lives and societies, so that
we may turn away from the ashes of destruction and begin to embrace more
fully the new life given us by Christ.
Jesus is our model because Jesus throughout manifests full, complete and
active adherence to the will of him who sent him. His passion glorifies
the Father because it forcefully reveals the power of his love that saves
the whole of human kind.
Every journey begins with a single step. To take that step one must have
the desire to make the journey. Every journey is a voyage of discovery.
Sometimes the terrain traveled is familiar, sometimes the terrain is seen
for the first time; whatever the case, the Sacred journey is a journey
intended to enhance our relationship with God and meet the Risen Christ
in a new way.
Biblically, the first person to undertake a personal journey of faith and
discovery is Abraham and his wife Sarah. "Now the Lord said to Abram (Abraham)
'Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land
that I will show you.'" (Genesis 12:1) Two things are implied in this invitation:
A journey into the unknown based on trust and faith and a personal journey
of discovery of this God who offers the invitation and promise of blessing.
In spirituality the desert or wilderness is symbolic of the struggle to
obey, heed, and listen to the voice of God who calls and issues the invitation.
It is often tortuous, twisting, challenging involving purging, purifying,
cleansing so that one's personal self can experience transformation through
the process of dying to the old self and rising to new life, a life of
total trust and intimacy with the One Who Calls.
A we touch upon key moments in the life of Jesus' journey we will try to
make applications to our own journey of faith.
PRAYER OF THE
Risen Lord, the Way, the Truth and the Life,
us faithful followers of the spirit of Your Resurrection.
that we may be inwardly renewed:
to ourselves in order that You may live in us.
our lives serve as signs of the transforming power of Your love.
us as Your instruments for the renewal of society,
Your life and love to all people,
leading them to Your Church.
we ask of you, Lord Jesus,
and reigning with the Father,
the unity of the Holy Spirit,
The Sacred Journey Preparing
First Biblical Reflection
The Desert Experience As Foundational
(Establishing The Relationship)
and I begin the journey. The first experience is the desert where
one faces self and God.
and wilderness experience was very significant for Jesus as a person and
for his ministry. Read slowly the following passage while imagining yourself
out in the wilderness with Jesus.
Scripture Reading from Mark 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert (wilderness), and he remained
in the desert (wilderness) for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among
wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel
of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel." (cf. Matt 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13)
Set the scene!
desert appears in the Bible as an "intermediate" time, a "time between":
one can travel through the desert, but not settle down there. Forty years,
forty days: this is the "time of the desert" for the people of Israel during
their journey, but also for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. It is a stretch of
time that can be endured only if we learn to be patient, to await and to
persevere, accepting the high price of hope. (Enzo Bianchi, Words of the
Why did Jesus spend time in the desert? For what purpose?
What could he have been struggling with? (tempted by Satan)
What can one learn in the "desert" (being alone) regarding
self, others, mission, world?
What makes the "desert experience" of Jesus foundational
What "desert" experiences have you had that were foundational
for your spirituality?
What is the connection that Mark makes between Jesus' baptism,
temptation, and mission.
In what way is Jesus, after the desert experience, different
from the earlier Jesus?
What temptations do I face that challenge my resolve to remain
firmly among the followers of Jesus?
In what ways has Jesus shown me the way?
The Sacred Journey Preparing
Second Biblical Reflection
Jesus, The Beloved Son - Our
VIE DE JESUS MAFA www.jesusmafa.com
Theme: Jesus and I share a common relationship
with God, Our Father.
I am the beloved son or daughter. This is my identity as Christian.
This is a
defining moment for the disciples because Jesus manifests to them and to
us an important truth about who he is and the work for which he was sent
(John 4:34). God the Father loves his Son, and the Son loves the Father.
Love of God transfigures people. You and I are transfigured by our love
of God. Read the following passage slowly while imagining yourself on the
mountain with the disciples.
Scripture Reading from Mk 9:2-10
(Matt 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36 and
4:5-6; Matt 3:17; John 12:28-29; 2Peter 1:17-18)
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart
by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became
dazzling white, such as no fuller (worker in cloth) on earth could bleach
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing
with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that
we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one
for Elijah." He [Peter] hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a [the]
voice [of God], "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking
around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate
what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from
the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising
from the dead meant.
Set the scene!
manifestation of God - Theophany, that is, God revealing himself to men
and women occurs many times in Scripture. They are frequently associated
with particular holy places. Often associated with a call of a prophet
or of some individual, e.g. Abraham, Moses, the prophets and Jesus. The
call can be simple or accompanied by natural phenomena, for example, earthquake,
fire, cloud, wind. The recipient is given a revelation or call. Common
to these experiences is the combined experience of dread and fascination
that is characteristic of awe before the holy. (Harper's Bible Dictionary,
If Jesus is the beloved Son, then, through baptism, I am
the beloved son or daughter. What does this mean in my life?
The disciples, and we, are invited to climb the mountain
with Jesus. What mountains am I afraid to climb?
When and where are you most awake to God's presence (glory)
in your life?
What makes "me" the beloved? How often do I think of this
To go to the mountain is to encounter God? What can happen
when I encounter God in the core of my being?
"This is my Beloved Son. Listen to Him." In what ways does
the Beloved Son speak to me?
The Sacred Journey Preparing
Third Biblical Reflection
The Zeal Of Jesus For Fhe Father's
House The Fire Within
Theme: Jesus and I share a common zeal of bringing
others to a deeper awareness
of God's love, holiness, and the desire for conversion.
This is another
defining moment for Jesus and for those who adhere to him. It reveals the
fire within Jesus. Read the following passage slowly while imagining yourself
in the temple area and witnessing this action of Jesus.
Scripture Reading from John 2:13-25
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He
found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well
as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area,
with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and
overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these
out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace."
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, "Zeal for your house will
consume me" (Ps. 69:9). At this the Jews answered and said to him, "What
sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered and said to them,
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking about the
temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples
remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe
in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust
himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify
about human nature. He himself understood it well. (Matt 21:12-17; Mark
11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48)
Set the scene!
ever there were an example of change or conversion, it would be the cleansing
of the temple by Jesus. In John this action is at the beginning of Jesus'
ministry because it belongs to the theme of conversion. Jesus is not driving
out the animals and money-changers from the temple area in order to correct
some liturgical abuse. Jesus action is prophetic (sign) and represents
a challenge to what the temple has come to signify for the people of that
time (a market place). It (the people) was unable to welcome the God of
change and progress. We know of course that we humans are constantly tempted
to forget that, while we must make plans and maintain some kind of order
in life, we must also be aware that the creative power of the Spirit may
at any moment call for changes that we would tend to resist. (Dumm, A Mystical
Portrait of Jesus, 97-98)
This action of Jesus occurs in the temple precincts shortly
before the observance of the Passover. How does this action become another
defining moment for Jesus?
Does the action of Jesus surprise you, disturb you, upset
What is the "zeal" (not an outburst of temper, but the energy
of goodness against those to whom religion had become a business) that
consumes Jesus? How is this action a manifestation of Sonship?
What things in your life that need to be removed so that
your person becomes a house of prayer? What is the fire that burns within
It is said that faith which rests merely on signs and not
on him to whom they point is shallow and unstable. How can one improve
the quality of one's faith and the depth of commitment to the Gospel?
How do you feel about people in our contemporary church who
behave with zeal? What makes their behaviour like Jesus', or different
What is the connection between Jesus' zeal, passion, death
The Sacred Journey Preparing
Fourth Biblical Reflection
Suffering And Glory Await Jesus
Theme: Jesus in Jerusalem enters upon the climactic
act of his earthly mission
as the beloved Son. I, too, will need to face the truth of being the
beloved son or daughter.
beloved Son of the Father, has come to Jerusalem where he will complete
the work for which he was sent (John 4:34). In doing so he will set an
example for all who wish to follow him. Read the following passage slowly
while imagining yourself among those seeking to meet Jesus. I also hear
the challenge offered to those who wish to follow him.
Scripture Reading from John 12:20-33
Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the
feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked
him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then
Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has
come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless
a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain
of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life
loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for
"Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant
be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.
"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your
Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An
angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not
come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up
from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." He said this indicating
the kind of death he would die.
Set the scene!
hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." Whereas before Jesus
said "My hour has not yet come," now Jesus announces that the "hour" has
come. It comes because of opposition to Jesus and because of the adulation
of the crowds. The "hour" arrives because opposition to Jesus reaches its
inevitable outcome: the officials seek his death. But also his success
with the world, but the world is fickle, seeking tomorrow after another
who might do more astonishing signs or offer more soothing advice. The
world is not able to believe that Jesus is from God and to follow after
him. The attitude of Jesus toward his impending death becomes a model for
all believers. Jesus connects his own death with a certain understanding
that life cannot be hoarded away; only those prepared to give up everything
can receive the gift of "eternal life," both now and hereafter. (Texts
for preaching, 237-39)
The event described by John is more significant for us than
for Jesus because Jesus through his actions demonstrates that obedience
is costly and that he "learned" obedience from the experience of what it
costs to obey when obedience is crucifying. What is obedience? Are there
limits? In what was Jesus' obedience rooted?
What new meaning does the saying of Jesus: "Unless a grain
of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit" acquire when applied to the Christian?
What 'grain of wheat' in your life must fall and die to become more?
We are told that some Greeks approached Philip: "Sir, we
would like to see (meet) Jesus!" Through this passage John informs us that
access to faith is gradual and that to see Jesus one must be led by an
apostle or, today, by the immediate bearers - Christians. How welcoming
is your witness to Jesus?
The process of dying to self is always in relationship to
others, e.g., accepting others despite shortcomings, to stop judging and
be in right relationship with God. Why did Jesus have difficulty teaching
his disciples and others to embrace his life of self-giving?
Jesus is our model because Jesus throughout manifests full,
complete and active adherence to the will of him who sent him. His passion
glorifies the Father because it forcefully reveals the power of his love
that saves the whole of human kind. As a committed follower of Jesus what
opportunities are there for self-giving love in my life? How can one witness
to the truth of being the beloved son or daughter?
The Sacred Journey Preparing
Fifth Biblical Reflection
The Meaning Of The Cross And
The Empty Tomb For The Christian
Theme: Jesus shows us the way! Jesus' death
fulfills Scripture (John 19:28)
and brings to an end the work for which he was sent (John 4:34):
to manifest to all people the name of his Father, who gave everything
to him (John 17:6-7). To follow Jesus is the way that leads to glory.
surrender of Jesus to the Father: "Father, into your hands I commend my
spirit." Imagine yourself standing silently with Mary and the women gazing
on the dead Jesus and later silently standing before the tomb as you read
slowly the following passage.
Scripture Reading from John 19:25-27,30, 40-42
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister,
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother
and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold,
your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from
that hour the disciple took her into his home....
They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with
the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in
the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid
Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close
Set the scene!
passage describes for us the climactic moment in the life of Jesus. Near
the cross was the presence of faithful women and the "disciple whom
he loved" (15:40). John seems to see this intimate scene at the cross as
a sign of how Jesus prepares for the future when he will no longer be physically
present to his disciples. Mary will become the spiritual mother of all
those who believe in her Son. Jesus at the time of personal agony is nonetheless
thinking of others and is soley concerned with providing for their welfare.
An example the power of unselfish love. Challenges our secular culture's
despair in the presence of weakness and death, and reminds us that the
possibility of loving continues even when strength begins to ebb and may
even be more fruitful than ever before. (A Mystical Portrait of Jesus,
The dramatic scene of Jesus on the Cross reveals his glorification.
In order to be where he is the disciples must follow Jesus by showing determination
similar to his, they must go to the point of losing their lives, they must
detach themselves from their lives "in this world" to "preserve them for
eternal life." In what ways can one in dying to the small things learn
to live in a world of life and death, suffering and joy, with God?
Mary patiently stands by the Cross and quietly ponders the
scene before her, surrendering her son and herself to God. She says nothing.
What can one learn from her patience and faith? Have you ever stood before
the cross? What were your thoughts? Would you put your arm around her?
In the moments preceding his death Jesus prepares for the
future when he no longer will be physically present to his disciples. What
symbolic role is given to Mary (Woman) and John (Beloved Disciple)? In
Genesis 3:20 Eve is called the mother of all the living. How is Mary a
John 20:1-18 and parallel passages describe incredible events
attainable only by faith. What meaning has the cross and the tomb for the
Christian? In what ways does the journey with Jesus help me in my journey