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Ink Slingers Lynette

Just How Good are Those Mud Pies?

Just How Good are Those Mud Pies

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun

and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Matthew 17:1-4

We’ve all had those “mountain-top” experiences. Ones that touch us so profoundly we don’t ever want the moment to end. Peter, in the presence of Jesus gloriously transfigured before them, tries to prolong the experience, “I will make three tents here.” How we long to pitch our tents, not just on the mountain tops of a glorious experience, but on the heights of our deepest desires and longings. If we truly understood what is offered to us poor fallen creatures, however, I believe we would take those tents, safely secure them to our backs, and trudge forward, never veering from our goal. C.S. Lewis captures our struggle perfectly when he wrote,

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” The Weight of Glory, pp 3-4.

What then is the infinite joy offered us? Redemption, yes. But it goes far beyond that singular act of redemption in Christ’s self-giving love on the cross. We are to share in the very life and love of the Trinity – eternally. “God became man that man might become God,” stated St. Athanasius. Christ’s Incarnation united the divine with humanity and “bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature.” (2 Pet 1:4) The words of St. Gregory of Nyssa show the extent of what grace can do,

“once he is adopted by the God of the universe as a son, he becomes part of the family of that Being…. Man surpasses his nature: mortal, he becomes immortal; perishable, he becomes imperishable; fleeting, he becomes eternal; human, he becomes divine.”

Divine, glorified. Not even the angels, pure spirits who behold the very face of God, share in God’s own Divine Nature. Have we ever contemplated the depths of what this means? Although the angels are exceedingly superior creatures than we are in the order of nature, humanity is higher by the order of grace. (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae) We won’t just be spectators in heaven, watching the angels glorify God while we sit clothed in white robes in a state of ecstasy (although that paints a lovely picture). We are given the gift of divine participation in the eternal – what C.S. Lewis calls the “Great Dance.” God wrote His love story on our hearts to have us yearn for that very thing.

“We want something else which can hardly be put into words – to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it…At present… [w]e cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.” C.S. Lewis

Yes, God willing, we will dance. Our death is inevitable. Our life here is our choice. We can continue to make mud pies, thinking we are or will be filled and satisfied. Or we can venture out of the mud. We can start searching for that which is a foretaste of the promises God so very much wants to lavish upon us. The question at the heart of it all, is this – can we hold out? Can we let our hearts yearn a little while longer? And when we foolishly stop to make mud pies, can we learn to let them go and set our sights once again on the One who waits to dance with us?

I’ve splashed and played in the mud most of my life, eating my fill of my carefully crafted mud pies. I’ve felt the hunger that has never been satisfied. I’ve set my eyes on His promises, steadfastly marching forward, only to end up face first in the mud. But I know He waits. He waits patiently while I am foolish and stubbornly play in the mud. He waits with longing, hoping to take me into His loving arms. He waits for the day when He will lovingly gaze into my eyes asking, “May “We Dance?”

“You steady me
Slow and sweet, we sway
Take the lead and I will follow Finally ready now
To close my eyes and just believe That You won’t lead me
Where You don’t go

When my faith gets tired
And my hope seems lost
You spin me round and round And remind me of that song

The one You wrote for me And we dance”

Bethel Music, Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger

(For a more in-depth discussion and understanding of the topics raised in this reflection, read The One Thing is Three by Father Michael Gaitley)

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Ink Slingers

Mark’s Questions

I read the gospel of Mark over the weekend, beginning with the historical prologue. I love this information, as the New Testament did not fall intact from heaven, but was hard-fought by Church leaders for hundreds of years. The earliest manuscripts of this book are titled, “According to Mark” and it has been the Church’s uniform tradition that the author was that disciple of Peter’s whom he called his son (I Peter 5:13). Also referred to as John Mark, a combination of his Jewish and Roman names, he traveled with Paul, too (Acts 12:25). It seems that his gospel was written before AD 70. He relates Christ’s prophesy that the temple would be destroyed, which occurred in AD 70, with no mention of it as a past event. Some ancient writers (Irenaeus and Eusebius) hold that Mark wrote soon after Peter’s martyrdom in AD 67 or even earlier, during the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54). Either idea, it is safe to say it was written by AD 70. He wrote for Gentile believers in Rome, often explaining Jewish customs for his readers and translating Aramaic words into Latin or Greek. The climax of his Gospel is the exclamation by a Roman soldier, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (It’s really hard to read that in anything other than a John Wayne accent!).

 

Mark’s Questions

There are dozens of questions peppered throughout this book, asked by every character. I think that Mark wanted his readers to be questioned and challenged and driven toward a reckoning. Here are many of those questions I found and who asked them, in my reading from beginning to end:

What is this? A new teaching?
People in synagogue

Why does this man speak like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?
Scribes

Why do you question like this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven or rise and walk’?
Jesus

Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners? 
Scribes  

Why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath (plucking grain to eat)?
Pharisees

Have you never read what David and his men did when they were hungry?
Jesus

Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or harm; to save life or kill?
Jesus

Who are my mother and brothers?
Jesus

Do you understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?
Jesus

Teacher, do you not care if we perish?
Disciples

Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?
Jesus

Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?
Disciples

What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the most high God?
Unclean spirit in a man

What is your name?
Jesus

Who touched me?
Jesus

Why do you make a tumult and weep?
Jesus

Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him?
People from home

What shall I ask?
Herod

Shall we buy 200 denarii worth of bread and give it to them? 
Disciples

How many loaves do you have?
Jesus

Why does this generation seek a sign?
Jesus

Do you not remember?
Jesus

Who do you say I am?
Jesus

What are you discussing?
Jesus

Oh faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?
Jesus

Why could we not cast it out?
Disciples

What must I do to inherit eternal life?
Rich man

Who can be saved?
Disciples

Are you able to drink the chalice that I drink or be baptized with my baptism?
Jesus

What do you want me to do for you?
Jesus

Is it not written, my house shall be a house of prayer for the nations?
Jesus

Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?
Pharisees

Which commandment is the first of all?
Scribes

Why was the ointment wasted?
Disciples

Why do you trouble her?
Jesus

Are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?
Jesus

Are you the Christ, the son of the blessed?
Priests and scribes

What evil has he done?
Pilate

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Jesus

Who will roll away the stone for us?
Women

 

Answers

The answers can change a life and begin ripples of goodness. Jesus is God and man. He heals, forgives, eats, gives, speaks, loves. We, His friends and brothers, can listen, believe, give, act, join, and love. Another noteworthy tidbit is that the word “immediately” appears over forty times in the sixteen chapters: the spirit immediately drove him; they immediately left their nets; Jesus immediately left the synagogue. It is a new year; let us consider these questions and our answers immediately.