Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

Sunday BibleTalk: October 7th, 2018
Sunday BibleTalk with Sunday Video Chat!
Greetings, SBT Readers:

I'm a great fan of Pope Francis, but his words on 9/11/2018 regarding Satan's attack on bishops leave me perplexed. Whether his meaning was taken out of context or incorrectly translated, CNS reported the following:

The great accuser "seeks to reveal sins, which people can see, in order to scandalize the people" of God, he said in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

For me, the revealing of sins is the action of the Holy Spirit, not of Satan. That which remains hidden remains in the dark to fester, contaminate and pollute; that which is true surfaces so that Light may shine and goodness prevail. Jesus says as much to Nicodemus: "For those who do wicked things hate the light and do not come toward the light, so that their works might not be exposed. But those who love the truth come to the light, so that their works may clearly be seen as done in God" (Jn 3:20-21). Moreover, if the people of God are scandalized by the revelation of the hierarchy's sins, as far as I am concerned that is the appropriate response. Again, Jesus says, "Blessed are they who weep and mourn" (Mt 5:4). Weeping and mourning is not the action of Satan; rather, those who grieve do so in solidarity with the broken-hearted God who has had to witness unspeakable crimes and obscenities perpetrated by the hierarchy, clergy and religious.

Here in the U.S., Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, have met with a similar glossing over of Truth. There are those who would reduce her charges to a political move initiated by Democrats in general or by the Clintons specifically. There are those who wanted to rush through the nomination without further delving into Dr. Ford's allegations or without listening to the testimony of key witnesses. Then there are those who have demonized Dr. Ford while bemoaning the suffering and hardship inflicted on their nominee. Like Pope Francis, they might as well have claimed that Dr. Ford's allegations are the work of Satan. Whatever the outcome of the FBI investigation, the Truth will surface!

My comments are not meant as a political statement but as an invitation for us to explore why Truth is uncomfortable and why those who demand the "outing" of lies become demonized. The real demonic force is not in seeking Truth but in stifling it. And this applies to clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups as well as to the way the victims of sexual abuse have been discounted, threatened and silenced. May the Spirit of Truth bring clarity and may we who are scandalized continue to weep and mourn until justice prevails!

Many Blessings!


 PS Please note that my video reflection, Sunday Chat (see below), is an imperfect production, entirely unscripted and therefore prone to some "rough spots" in terms of clarity and expression! There's no time for "re-takes"!


And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
"Let the children come to me;
do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to
such as these. 
Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it."
MK 10:2-16

Small children do not see divisions and dichotomies; nor do they create them. Rather, they have a unified vision without barriers, boundaries, hierarchies or any of the other ways in which adults distort relationships. For a child, all creation is bright, beautiful and wondrous. Weeds and roses, tadpoles and kittens, pebbles and diamonds-- all are equal in their eyes, just as people are. A young child might be curious about differences such as race, gender or physical abilities, but curiosity is not the same as prejudice. Children, in fact, are naturally accepting of others and loving in their response. As they grow older, however, they lose their innocence and begin to see differences rather than similarities. Like adults, they compare themselves to others, developing feelings of superiority or inferiority, learning to envy or blame, priding themselves on what they own or what they have achieved. Sadly, children as young as five years of age can exclude others from play, bully classmates, and make fun of those they perceive to be "different'; by the time they are ten years of age, they are capable of anything -- including murder. This is well-illustrated by William Golding's Lord of the Flies. Published in 1954, the novel shocked the world with its depiction of British schoolboys descending into barbaric behavior after they are stranded on an uninhabited island. Certainly, the narrative supports the notion of "original sin" which is not evident in a newborn baby or toddler.

When Jesus raises up children as the model of how adults should conduct themselves, he is speaking specifically of children who are young enough to be innocent. If all of us maintained the consciousness with which we entered this world, there would be no divisions among us and certainly no divorce. Relationships in general are muddied and distorted by adult ways of thinking, seeing and being. Marriage, for example, can become a battleground in which couples fight over everything from finances to in-laws, from child-raising to household chores. When there is no "give and take," when forgiveness is seen as weakness, then warfare escalates into direct sabotage, passive aggression, verbal abuse and even physical violence. Couples may stay together but if domestic warfare is their reality, then they are effectively "divorced," even if they still co-habit and are legally married. Such co-habiting, in fact, makes a mockery of marriage. Some couples actually hate each other yet stay together because of financial and societal advantages. Outwardly, they may seem to be happily married but they are living a lie, acting out drama after drama behind closed doors.

True marriage is more than wearing a ring on one's left hand and sharing a bedroom; it involves more than staying together because of the children or, more commonly these days, because of the dog. In true marriage, each person gives 100%, placing the relationship before all else, including careers, hobbies, extended family and even before one's children. This is not to say that a child is unimportant; rather, a couple's primary commitment is to each other and, if that is in place, the well-being of children will follow and there will be harmony in the home.

In any relationship or even in communal living, the challenge is to develop a "We" consciousness instead of Me, My and Mine! As long as we focus on our ego-needs (which is what adults tend to do) we will be incapable of the sacred-marriage to which Jesus calls us -- a marriage of the true self to God which allows us to be self-giving towards others. Only when we achieve this sacred-marriage will we be able to enter fully into sacramental relationships with others,

  1. If there is a "significant other" in your life, to what extent is your relationship "sacramental"? (In other words, to what extent does this relationship with another or with a community manifest the presence of Jesus in your midst, serving as a symbol of God's love?)
  2. What character flaws, attitudes and behaviors "divorce" you from those you love?
  3. If you have experienced marital divorce, when and why did the marriage break down? Have you reflected on the history of that marriage and what have you learned from this history?
  4. If you are still married, are you in a "sacramental marriage" or living in a "war zone" in which withdrawal of affection is as lethal as physical violence?

You can order my book, Mind-Shifting Imagery and Dr. Patrick Williams' book, Getting Naked: On Being Emotionally Transparent at the Right time, the Right Place, and with the Right Person on Amazon.
Introduction to Image Guidance

Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,