Yes, the Pope does go to confession

This is for all of you who have asked, “Does the Pope go go confession?”

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Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-30-14

Girl anointed with Chrism

“Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.’”

1 Sm 16:13a

“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.”

Jn 9:11

What does it mean for us to be “anointed?”  At the most basic level, being anointed means being smeared with oil (or another substance).

We hear about two anointings this weekend.  The first anointing is Samuel anointing David.  David is chosen by God to be the king of Israel.  Samuel follows the Lord’s instructions and anoints David, marking him as God’s chosen one.  With this anointing, David is given a mission – to lead God’s people.  He is also given  all that he needs to accomplish that mission – the Holy Spirit!  Like David, we have been anointed by God.  We are anointed in our baptism and confirmation.  We have been chosen by God.  We have each been given a mission to transform the world.  We have also been given God’s Spirit to empower us to accomplish that mission.

We also hear about the man born blind.  Jesus anoints this man and empowers him to see.  As a result of this anointing, the man testifies to the truth of who Jesus is, even in the face of persecution.

Our baptism and confirmation empower us to witness to the truth of Jesus in the midst of hostility and resistance.  Like the man born blind, the resistance we encounter can deepen our faith.  Through our anointing we can say, with the man born blind, “I do believe, Lord,” and come to worship Jesus (Jn 9:38).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Photo Credit:  Anointing with Chrism oil – 4 by John Ragai under CC BY 2.0

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-23-14

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“Jesus said to the woman, ‘Give me a drink.’”

Jn. 4:7

“Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us.  Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours.  God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2560

The story of the woman at the well found in the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel is a powerful story of conversion.  A woman, isolated by her sin, comes to the well at noon.  She comes alone, in the middle of the day; most women gathered at the well in the cool of the morning and evening.  She was ashamed to be around the other women.

At the well, she encounters Jesus. He is waiting for her.  This meeting is not accidental; it has a divine purpose.  Jesus desires her from the depth of his heart.  His thirst is not simply a desire for water; it is a thirst for her soul.  Jesus begins a conversation with the woman.  His request for a drink opens up a dialogue leading to transformation.

During lent, it is easy to forget that the source of our spiritual journey is God.  We can get caught up on what we are doing:  our fasting, our prayer, our charity….  But the story of the woman at the well reminds us that God is the source of all of our desires and our efforts.  It is God’s thirst for us that leads us to thirst for him.

It is when these two thirsts meet, God’s thirst for us and our thirst for God, that things change.  After meeting Jesus at the well, the woman returns to the village transformed.  She is on longer isolated, but instead, reaches out to her neighbors to share her experience with Jesus.  She is a converted woman.  Something powerful and mysterious has happened.  She has been transformed by God’s thirst.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/befuddledsenses/8149017681/”>Accretion Disc</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

The Conversion of the Samaritan Woman

by tribalicious is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The story of the Samaritan Woman at the Well found in the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel is a powerful story of conversion.  It is a story that works on many levels.

On the surface, there is an encounter between a weary traveler and a lonely woman.  The traveler begins a conversation with the woman by asking for a drink.  Through their conversation, the woman is changed.  She returns to her village sharing the excitement of this powerful encounter.

On a cultural level, the encounter is one of breaking through prejudice.  Jesus is a Jewish man.  As a man, he would not enter into a conversation with an unaccompanied woman.  Relationships between men and women were strictly regulated.  According to cultural traditions, Jesus should not have addressed a woman he did not know in a public place.  Yet, that is exactly what he does.

Even more astonishing is that Jesus addresses a Samaritan.  In Jesus’ world, Jews and Samaritans had a long history of animosity (see Ezra 9-10).  Samaritans were detested by Jews even more than pagans.  If Jesus were to speak to a Samaritan according to the customs of his time, his words should have been insulting.  Yet, Jesus responds differently.

Finally, the woman is described as having had five husbands.  She comes to the well in the middle of the day.  Most women in her day would have gone to the well in the cool of the morning.  The well was a place for building community and the women would talk and share stories while gathering the day’s water.  The Samaritan woman avoids the society of other women by coming in the middle of the day.  Perhaps the woman was ashamed of her past (the five husbands) or perhaps the other women had shunned her.  Regardless, she comes to the well alone, most likely because of a scandal, perceived or real.  Jesus would have easily put this information together.  Yet he reaches out to the woman and invites her to conversation.

Ultimately, on a cultural level, we discover that Jesus is not bound by the customs and traditions of his time.  His vision is broader and deeper than any culture bound values.  “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem” (Jn. 4:21).

The words Jesus speaks are important and move us to another level, even deeper than the cultural level… the spiritual level.

Jesus initiates the conversation.  He is waiting for the woman at the well.  God is always waiting for us.  This meeting is not accidental; it has a divine purpose.  Jesus loves her before she even arrives at the well.  He desires her from the depths of his heart.  His first words to the woman are “Give me a drink” (Jn. 4:7).   His thirst is not simply a desire for water; it is a thirst for her soul.  These words open up a spiritual conversation.

I believe that what John records in his Gospel is a bare bones outline of what actually transpired.  As the biblical scholar William Barclay notes,

Now it is certain that all we have here is the briefest possible report of what must have been a long conversation.  Clearly there was much more to this meeting than is recorded here.  If we may use an analogy, this is like the minutes of a committee meeting where we have only the salient points of the discussion recorded (Daily Study Bible, John vol. 1).

Whatever the details, this conversation has a clear progression as the woman reveals more and more of herself and discovers more and more about Jesus.  She begins by confronting Jesus with his cultural limitations, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jn. 4:9).  She sees all the boundaries between them.  However, she soon moves beyond those limitations.  She next addresses Jesus as “Sir” (Jn. 4:11), a respectful form of address.  She is beginning to recognize Jesus’ wisdom as she converses with him.  He is no longer an enemy but a respected teacher.  As she reveals more about herself and trusts Jesus more, she dares to ask the question:  Could Jesus possibly be the Messiah?  Jesus clearly states that he is.

The woman has discovered what she has been looking for her entire life.  She leaves to share this good news with her friends.  She has found the source of life, the fountain of living water, that wells up to eternal life (Jn. 4:13-15).

This simple story of one woman’s conversion teaches us a lot about the dynamics of grace in our soul.

Photo Credit: “Jesus and the Samaritan Woman” by tribalicious under CC BY 2.0

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-16-14

“Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them…””

Mt. 17:1

“The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he ‘will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.’  But it also recalls that ‘it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God’ (see Phil. 3:21; Acts 14:22).”  

Catechism of the Catholic Church 556

Sometimes it seems like Spring will never come.  Last week. when the sun came out and I heard the sound of ice melting, my heart lifted.  Hope!  Winter was not going to last forever.  Someday soon we would see green grass bathed in the light of the sun.

The Gospel story of the Transfiguration is like sunshine that gives hope.  The spiritual life can feel like trudging up a high mountain.  Even if we are following Jesus, there are times when we are just trudging.  The road is not always easy.

But the transfiguration reminds us of the goal of the journey. There is glory at the end of the road! On this Second Sunday of Lent we get a glimpse of the end of the journey.  Our lenten disciplines can seem like trudging, but they help us to appreciate the view.  This weekend we are reminded of why we are on the journey.  Lent is taking us somewhere.

The Transfiguration also teaches us that we cannot control the journey.  When we receive a beautiful day (like last weekend), we may want to bottle it up.  Peter wanted to bottle up the Transfiguration.  But we can’t.  The challenge is to live so that life becomes a balance of trudging forward and appreciating the beauty along the way.

May God bless you with many moments of sunshine this lent.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-9-14

“At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”

Mt. 4:1

“The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2847

Each one of us is a puppet.  We have our strings pulled by this desire or that goal; this hunger and that fear.  We are yanked about by all kinds of forces:  economic pressures, psychological hangups, physical weaknesses…   It is easy to bounce from desire to desire or fear to fear as we make our way through the day.

Jesus’ temptation in the desert challenges that notion.  Jesus is driven by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted.  In His temptation, Jesus confronts these hidden forces.  He meets the puppet master face to face and cuts the strings.

For us, lent is a time to confront the puppet master.  Our lenten fasting exposes the strings which manipulate our lives.  The trials and temptations of lent (or any time) lead us to deeper self-control (a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:23)).  Being aware of the strings empowers us to resist them.

Lenten fasting also aids us in another way.  It forces us to recognize our weakness.  We experience how difficult it is to resist these forces and often fail in our lenten plans.  This failure uncovers our need for God’s grace.

Jesus defeated the puppet master.  If we rely on His grace given in the Holy Spirit the trials of lent and life can lead us to deeper intimacy with the God who conquers the world.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood