A Biblical Reflection
by Ernest Varosi, C.R.
As 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
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)
Theme: Jesus and I
begin the journey. The first experience is the desert where
one faces self and God.
baptism 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.
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)
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
Jesus spend time in the desert? For what purpose? What could he have been
struggling with? (tempted by Satan)
one learn in the "desert" (being alone) regarding self, others, mission,
the "desert experience" of Jesus foundational for spirituality?
experiences have you had that were foundational for your spirituality?
the connection that Mark makes between Jesus' baptism, temptation, and
way is Jesus, after the desert experience, different from the earlier Jesus?
do I face that challenge my resolve to remain firmly among the followers
ways has Jesus shown me the way?
The Sacred Journey Preparing
Second Biblical Reflection
Jesus, The Beloved Son - Our
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.
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.
Reading from Mk 9:2-10
17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36 and Mal 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.
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,
is the beloved Son, then, through baptism, I am the beloved son or daughter.
What does this mean in my life?
and we, are invited to climb the mountain with Jesus. What mountains am
I afraid to climb?
where are you most awake to God's presence (glory) in your life?
"me" the beloved? How often do I think of this truth?
to the mountain is to encounter God? What can happen when I encounter God
in the core of my being?
is my Beloved Son. Listen to Him." In what ways does the Beloved Son speak
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.
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.
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)
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)
of Jesus occurs in the temple precincts shortly before the observance of
the Passover. How does this action become another defining moment for Jesus?
action of Jesus surprise you, disturb you, upset you? Why?
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?
in your life that need to be removed so that your person becomes a house
of prayer? What is the fire that burns within you?
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?
you feel about people in our contemporary church who behave with zeal?
What makes their behaviour like Jesus', or different from his?
the connection between Jesus' zeal, passion, death and resurrection?
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.
the 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.
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.
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)
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
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?
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?
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?
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.
total 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.
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
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,
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?
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?
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 new Eve?
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 through life?