Wednesday, August 02, 2017

“Instruct Me Anew” by Beth DeCristofaro

“The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan”, Benjamin West, 1800
In the daytime the cloud of the LORD was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey. (Exodus 40:38)

And (Jesus) replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old."  (Matthew 13:52)

Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
  (Gospel Acclamation from the Mass for the Day)

How did the Israelites view the visible, ferocious presence of God in their midst?  Certainly, there must have been very little doubt of the kind which had led them to dance around a golden calf.  For we Americans who are immersed in reality TV, we might have the sense of Big Brother watching.  And because of our obsession with individual rights, this might not be a good thing.  Most probably the Israelites at least felt that God’s presence in fire and cloud justified their existence as God’s Chosen People with shared struggles and hopes.

We have two Cursillo teams in formation now in the Arlington Diocese.  Women are preparing for their weekend September 14-17 while men will be at San Damiano October 26-29.  They commit to an extended and uplifting formation period.  Many of us discover that being on Team brings us closer to Christ than our weekend did.  I think of these teams as I read Jesus’ words to his disciples.  He instructed (them) in the Kingdom of heaven thus, through His insights, they were brought to the knowledge of the old covenant fulfilled in Jesus, the New.  As team members, we bring our “old” understandings and relationship with Jesus to an unfolding of Spirit and Light in the Team process and come to a “new” place from which to “Be Christ” to others. He is seen daytime and night in the grace that Team offers to each other and candidates.     

“Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.”  Openness and listening take frequent practice or we hear the echoes of our own wants.  Like pouring new wine into old wineskins we cannot successfully hold the words of Jesus if we do not renew through practices which stretch our listening “muscles.”  Pick up a new or neglected one:  the Examen (see Sunday’s Tripod), Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, or any prayer which asks you to listen, emptied rather than focused on recitation or reading.  As you practice, bring both Teams and potential Candidates into your intentions.    
Credits for the painting:  

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