“And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them …”
Tim was nine when the last of many foster-care placements began to break down and he was placed in a home where children received special care and help. Tim was a sad and angry young boy who, having been put into care by his mother when he was six, hated the world. He was often sullen and aggressive, though occasionally he revealed a wicked sense of humor and some sparkle.
During his time at the home, his care-givers would arrange for Tim to meet with his mother. Each time it would be the same. Tim would be excited, full of hope and plans, confident that this time things would be different and his mother would want him back. It was a very normal reaction for any child. Each time, however, the pain would be greater. Tim’s mother would express her pleasure at seeing him, give him sweets and they would go off for the day. Then it would end and Tim would return, agitated, withdrawn and angry, refusing to talk. His hopes and dreams were once more dashed. It took a great deal of being alongside him, listening to him and helping him to make sense of what had happened to him, before he could move on and begin to live with a different kind of hope.Continue reading →
“That the dead will rise, even Moses made (that) known in the passage about the bush, …”
Since he was a boy, the painter Henri Matisse would visit the great Pierre-Auguste Renoir every week, taking in everything he could from the great master. When Renoir contracted arthritis, Matisse began to come every day to bring food, brushes and paint, and anything else Renoir needed
One day, Matisse watched as Renoir groaned in pain while making a simple but exact brush stroke. Finally, the young would-be artist could no longer stand watching his mentor suffer.
“Master,” Matisse asked, “your work is already vast and important. Why keep torturing yourself like this?”
“Very simple,” Renoir answered. “The pain passes; but the beauty remains.” Continue reading →
“He… “He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as was His custom.”
A story from ancient Egypt tells how the god Thoth invented a new way of helping people learn and remember things, a system called writing. Thoth explained his invention to the king of Egypt; but the king was not impressed. He said the invention was liable to make people lazy in trying to remember things; that they would start to rely on written things instead of thinking for themselves. Worst of all, it would allow people to appear learned, rather than actually being learned. Written things need the help of the author to explain them, the human touch.
Although this is just an ancient myth, it still has some valid points to make. First, we learn from other people. Books are written by other people; they don’t appear out of the blue or fall out of the sky. And second, we learn better from human contact in teaching, even when books are involved – what the ancient Greek philosopher Plato called “the animated speech of a knowledgeable person.” Even then, although the person might have knowledge, they also need the gift of passing on that knowledge, of helping others become keen to learn, and setting people on fire with a love of that subject. And with the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century, some of the Egyptian king’s misgivings came true. People sometimes mistook the book for learning or wisdom itself. Sometimes they thought that simply by reading or quoting that they would become learned, and so they neglected the need for understanding, for teaching and for interpretation to bring the written word to life. Continue reading →
Down through the centuries the followers of Christ would be called upon to profess their faith at various times and under various circumstances. For example, in Japan during the 16th and 17th centuries a persecution of the Church broke out. Many Catholics openly professed their faith and were tortured for it and put to death.
But one particular Japanese Christian lacked faith strong enough to endure persecution. Under torture he renounced his faith and his life was spared and he was given freedom to live. But when he did so, a Jesuit missionary priest, Father Mastrilli, bravely came forth from the crowd that had been watching him. He acknowledged that he was a Catholic priest. The Japanese officials arrested him immediately and began an excruciating ordeal of sixty hours of torture, finally executing him by beheading him.