Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director - March 2019

March 2019

Greetings to you my sisters and brothers in Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi. All peace and good be with you! May the peace and joy of our seraphic Father be yours in ever greater abundance as we journey with Saint Francis, Saint Clare and the Franciscan family in imitating Jesus and Mary!

 

In my February 2019 “Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director” I continued a discussion on the wonderful Feast of Epiphany. This month I will finish our discussion on what it means to be “Epiphany” and why it is so important.

 

I want to go straight to the sacred scripture and hear what our Lord has to say. You might expect me to share the Gospel of John chapter 3 verse 16. We hear it all the time and even see it at sporting events. And it is a beautiful and special passage but there is one even more special to me.

 

“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

 

This entire passage should bring us to our knees and make us cry with joy and amazement! Listen to it slowly and prayerfully, Jesus is explaining that what our Heavenly Father has done thru Jesus’ love is enfolded us into the Blessed Loving Circle of the Trinity! The Father loving the Son loving the Holy Spirit loving us and then back the other way! This is not only why we should be Epiphany but it is how we are to be Epiphany.

 

By being completely immersed in the Trinitarian love we can then be brought to perfect love. That perfect or Agape3 love will cause us to love God more perfectly and love those around us. This love will in turn attract those that are seeking perfect love themselves, even if they don’t know it at the time. That same love helps us to live and love as Jesus does and how our seraphic father, Saint Francis did. Our desire should be the same! That all those given to Jesus should be enfolded into the Blessed Trinity!

 

I know some may think all this talk of love is a bit over sweet, but let’s look at how the prophet Isaiah describes Jesus treatment even the sinners.

 

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. He will faithfully bring forth justice.”

This passage is powerful and should speak volumes to us. Jesus would not damage the bruised reed or put out the smoldering candle. What did he do? He healed the sinner and reignited the sinners’ light to the world. He did it in a gentle loving way. But some might say “he made a whip and cast out the money changers” that wasn’t so gentle.

 

We need to take a close look at that event. First, it was not Jesus’ normal behavior. Secondly we must ask why he did it. It is very simple really, the money changes and sellers set up their shops in the outer court of the temple. The outer court was also known as the court of the Gentiles. You need to know a little about temple worship back then. Gentiles wishing to worship the one true God were allowed to enter only into the outer court to pray and worship. The next court was the court of the women. Women, even Jewish women, were only allowed to enter the temple to that point. Then there was the inner court. That is where Jewish men could go. It was right next to the Holy of Holies or where the tabernacle was. And only the high priest could go there and only once a year to offer sin offerings for himself and the people.

 

“Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’”

 

So, when the ruling priests and Sanhedrin8 allowed the sellers and money changers to set up shop in the outer court they in essence made it impossible for the gentiles’ to enter into a prayerful and worshipful relationship with God! That is way Jesus did what he did. The Jews were actually preventing people from encountering God in a meaningful way and they were doing it to make a profit. To them the gentiles had little value as people and could be abused.

 

My sisters and brothers, I ask you to truly be Epiphany to let the love of the Blessed Trinity shine thru you and place a spotlight on Jesus!

Pax et Bonum Peace and all Good

Ted Bienkowski, OFS

SKD Region Formation Director

 

1 John 17:20-26 2

2 Emphasis mine

3 This Greek word, agápē, and variations of it are frequently found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers.

4 Isaiah 42:3

5 Gentiles (Heb., usually in plural, goyim), meaning in general all nations except the Jews.

6 Luke 19:45-46

7 Emphasis mine

8 The Jewish ruling council or government

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