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Mercy Surrounds Us

dark mercy

We exist in the infinite embrace of God’s mercy.  In mercy, we all were created.  In mercy, we all live.  In mercy, we all have the hope of eternal life.

The lavish mercy of God pours over us in every sunrise and sunset, in every noon and midnight.  With every breath, we draw on mercy.  With every thought, we capture its spirit and turn it to our hope.  The gift of such divine power in us calls us to lavish mercy with our own lives, to be agents of mercy in all things.

This journal is offered as an act of thanksgiving and celebration for that lavish mercy.  It is a gathering of reflections and prayers which sift through our ordinary experience to seek the breath-giving grace of God awaiting us there.

My name is Renee Yann. I am a Sister of Mercy.  I love to chase God through the bright blessing of words. I love to discover words in the dark blessing of silence. It is a joy to share with you the humble fruit of those mutual blessings.

Our entire theological tradition is expressed in terms of Mercy,
which I define as the willingness to enter into the chaos of others.
James F. Keenan, S.J.

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Alleluia: Unless …

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
August 10, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081022.cfm

St. Lawrence
Saint Lawrence. Mosaic from the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence who is noted for his love for those who were poor. Legend has it that Lawrence was demanded, before his martyrdom, to turn over the Church’s riches to the emperor Valerian. Instead, he distributed all the resources among the poor. Lawrence then gathered all these people, presenting them before Valerian with these words:

Behold in these poor persons 
the treasures which I promised to show you –
these are the true treasures of the Church.

Lawrence was likely inspired by readings like today’s. In Corinthians, Paul encourages us to be cheerful givers. He says this delights God, the Giver of Divine Abundance, whom we are imitating.


In our reading from John, Jesus says that only in dying to ourselves do we live – the ultimate generosity. He says that only by doing this can we truly follow him.

While these readings are clear and simple, they are so profound that we can hardly take in their message. What they ask of us is daunting! The encouragement Jesus gives us to respond to his challenge is this:

The Father will honor whoever serves me.

St. Lawrence believed and lived this promise. What about us?


Poetry: St. Laurence – Joyce Kilmer

Within the broken Vatican 
The murdered Pope is lying dead. 
The soldiers of Valerian 
Their evil hands are wet and red. 
Unarmed, unmoved, St. Laurence waits, 
His cassock is his only mail. 
The troops of Hell have burst the gates, 
But Christ is Lord, He shall prevail. 
They have encompassed him with steel, 
They spit upon his gentle face, 
He smiles and bleeds, nor will reveal 
The Church's hidden treasure-place. 
Ah, faithful steward, worthy knight, 
Well hast thou done. Behold thy fee! 
Since thou hast fought the goodly fight 
A martyr's death is fixed for thee. 
St. Laurence, pray for us to bear 
The faith which glorifies thy name. 
St. Laurence, pray for us to share 
The wounds of Love's consuming flame.

Music: Before the Bread – Elizabeth Alexander

We all want our lives to be full and complete – to be “bread”. But there are many steps before the grain of wheat becomes bread, as captured in this elegant acapella canon.

Alleluia: Fed by the Word

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 9, 2022

Today’s Readings 

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080922.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us key lessons about truth, simplicity and sacred obedience.

Let’s start with Ezekiel. In one of his technicolor visions, God tells him to eat a scroll inscribed with the scary words, “Lamentation and wailing and woe!” A little nightmarish, isn’t it. One might be tempted to tell God, “Thanks anyway, but I’ve already eaten!”

Source: gallica.bnf.fr Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 16744, fol. 81r.

But Ezekiel listens and obeys, only to be surprised by the sweetness of the Word once consumed.

The Lord said to me: Creature of Earth, eat what is before you;
eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel.
So I opened my mouth and was given the scroll to eat.
Creator of Earth, the Lord then said to me,
feed your belly and fill your stomach
with this scroll I am giving you.
I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.
The Lord said: Go now to the house of Israel,
and speak my words to them.

Ezekiel 3:1-4

Our Responsorial Psalm expatiates on that sweetness. The psalmist too sees that the Word, once embraced, brings unexpected delight.


In our Gospel, Jesus centers his teaching on the innocence and simplicity of a child. A child’s openness, trust, and readiness to love show us how we should respond to God’s Word.

As we “grow up”, and our lives become complicated with the world’s expectations, the Word can be hard to swallow. It demands honesty in a culture that often manipulates with lies. It asks for selflessness in a world full of “me first”. It asks us to listen, in sacred obedience, for the whisper of grace in a cacophony of violence.

The truth of God’s Word is demanding. It doesn’t bend to worldly expectations. And, certainly, this can bring a certain “lamentation and wailing and woe” to the practitioner of God’s just and merciful message.

Jesus tells us to take up that challenge, to trust the Word, to consume the it and be consumed by it, just as little children are consumed by mystery, hope, and delight.

Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:3-4

Poetry: Where Is God? – Mark Nepo

It’s as if what is unbreakable—
the very pulse of life—waits for
everything else to be torn away,
and then in the bareness that
only silence and suffering and
great love can expose, it dares
to speak through us and to us.
It seems to say, if you want to last,
hold on to nothing. If you want
to know love, let in everything.
If you want to feel the presence
of everything, stop counting the
things that break along the way.


Music: Word of God – Bernadette Farrell

Word of God, renew your people,
make us now your living sign.
Recreate us for your purpose
in this place and in this time.

Word of hope and word of healing…
Word of peace and word of justice …
With your cross of love upon us …
God alone the power we trust in …
By our name you call us onward
Cross of Jesus freely chosen
Cross of Jesus, all-embracing …
By your Cross, restored, forgiven…
Through the Cross of Christ our Savior …
To the waters lead your people …
Risen Savior with us always …
Holy Spirit, raise your people >>>

Alleluia: Called

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest
August 8, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080822.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called you through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.


by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican between 1508 to 1512

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we begin nearly two weeks of first readings from the prophet Ezekiel, and this first one is a real WOW!

As I looked, a stormwind came from the North,
a huge cloud with flashing fire enveloped in brightness,
from the midst of which (the midst of the fire)
something gleamed like electrum.
Within it were figures resembling four living creatures
that looked like this: their form was human.

Ezekiel 1:4-6

Walter Brueggemann calls Ezekiel “the prophet who had fantasies and hallucinations”. Nevertheless, Ezekiel is considered a prophet because like all prophets, Ezekiel “noticed what no one else noticed” — Ezekiel “saw death coming” to Israel.

Ezekiel did not blame the king, the government, the military or the war planners for this terrible death to come. He blamed the religious community, the clergy, the prophets: “My hands will be against the prophets who see delusive visions and give lying messages” (13:9). Ezekiel blamed the religious community because that community is responsible for truth-telling.

Truth-Telling and Peacemaking: A Reflection on Ezekiel
by Walter Brueggemann

I think it might be safe to say that most religious communities – and the people who comprise them – do not want to hear such things about themselves. Abraham Heschel, one of the greatest theologians and philosophers of the 20th century said this:

The prophets had disdain for those to whom God was comfort and security; to them God was a challenge, an incessant demand. He is compassion, but not a compromise; justice, but not inclemency. Tranquility is unknown to the soul of a prophet. The miseries of the world give him no rest. While others are callous, and even callous to their callousness and unaware of their insensitivity, the prophets remain examples of supreme impatience with evil, distracted by neither might nor applause, by neither success nor beauty. Their intense sensitivity to right and wrong is due to their intense sensitivity to God’s concern for right and wrong. They feel fiercely because they hear deeply.

from: What Are Prophets For?

By Abraham Joshua Heschel
MARCH 25, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus informs his disciples that he too will endure a prophet’s suffering:

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

Matthew 17:22-23

As we reflect on what these readings mean for us in our lives, our Alleluia Verse offers a key phrase:

Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called you through the Gospel
To possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

…through the Gospel

Unless we know and cherish the Gospel, we Christians cannot hear our call.


Poetry: The Call of a Christian – John Greenleaf Whittier

Not always as the whirlwind's rush 
On Horeb's mount of fear, 
Not always as the burning bush 
To Midian's shepherd seer, 
Nor as the awful voice which came 
To Israel's prophet bards, 
Nor as the tongues of cloven flame, 
Nor gift of fearful words,-- 
Not always thus, with outward sign 
Of fire or voice from Heaven,
The message of a truth divine, 
The call of Godis given! 
Awaking in the human heart 
Love for the true and right,-- 
Zeal for the Christian's better part, 
Strength for the Christian's fight. 
Nor unto manhood's heart alone
The holy influence steals 
Warm with a rapture not its own, 
The heart of woman feels! 
As she who by Samaria's wall
The Saviour's errand sought,-- 
As those who with the fervent Paul 
And meek Aquila wrought: 
Or those meek ones whose martyrdom 
Rome's gathered grandeur saw 
Or those who in their Alpine home
Braved the Crusader's war, 
When the green Vaudois, trembling, heard, 
Through all its vales of death, 
The martyr's song of triumph poured 
From woman's failing breath. 
And gently, by a thousand things 
Which o'er our spirits pass, 
Like breezes o'er the harp's fine strings, 
Or vapors o'er a glass, 
Leaving their token strange and new 
Of music or of shade, 
The summons to the right and true 
And merciful is made. 
Oh, then, if gleams of truth and light
Flash o'er thy waiting mind, 
Unfolding to thy mental sight 
The wants of human-kind; 
If, brooding over human grief,
The earnest wish is known 
To soothe and gladden with relief 
An anguish not thine own; 
Though heralded with naught of fear, 
Or outward sign or show; 
Though only to the inward ear 
It whispers soft and low; 
Though dropping, as the manna fell, 
Unseen, yet from above, 
Noiseless as dew-fall, heed it well,--- 
Thy Father's call of love!

Music: God is Calling through the Whisper

Alleluia:Faith and Hope

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080722.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are taught about the nature of faith and hope. 

Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake and be ready!
For you do not know 
on what day your Lord will come.

Our readings today are long, complex, and rich. Trying to pray with them this morning brought an image to mind.


Like many Dads, mine both loved and hated putting the lights on the Christmas tree. No matter how carefully he had stored them the previous year, those endless wires and tiny bulbs managed to morph into a ball of frustration when he opened the box.

But Dad persevered because he knew what the end result would be. After a few hours, when he finally leaned over to plug in his work, the whole family all held our breath both in anticipation and trepidation. That was because, most of time, nothing happened… no lights. Zilch.

Dad would then exclaim a litany over the fragile mess – one that I was prohibited from repeating. This chant signaled that we all immediately join in testing every single bulb to find the culprit which had caused the blackout. Ah! Family Christmas rituals!


Well, I think today’s readings are like those labyrinthine lights. Each passage contains a string of bulbs that must be twisted and turned over in our prayer to help us discover their illumination.

The central current for me is this: faith is a relationship, long and unbreakable. Even if a bulb goes out every now and again, keep searching for the energy and light, just as our foremothers and fathers did.

Our faith and hope are rooted in that sacred heritage:

In the ancient faith of Moses:

The night of the passover was known beforehand to our ancestors,
that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith,
they might have courage.

In the trusting songs of David

Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.

In the grounding insights of Paul

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen. 

And in the promise of Jesus to those who remain faithful

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”


Our readings assure us that, for those who hope and believe, there is no doubt what the end result will be. Our faith will be blessed by the glorious light of God.

Prose from Richard Rohr:

Music:

Alleluia: God’s Splendor

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
August 6, 2022

Today’s Readings: 

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080622.cfm

Today, in God’ Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
This is my beloved Son,
with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.

Peter, James, and John – those whom the Lord would most heavily depend on at the time of the Crucifixion – these three were given a sacred privilege. They witnessed Christ transformed by his Divinity, shining before the Creator whose voice came down from heaven.

transfiguration

Icon of Transfiguration by Alexander Ainetdinov

Peter’s account in today’s second reading might seem almost too much to believe. Yet, Peter’s very human telling of the event is most convincing. He doesn’t wax eloquent about how privileged the three were. He simply describes the event and says, “We were terrified.” — as indeed we all might be if we came face to face with God’s glory.

Perhaps they received this gift in order to bolster them through the Passion and Death of Christ, or to open their hearts to believe in the Resurrection. These men were the key leaders who would pick up the message of Jesus when it appeared to fall to the earth at the foot of Cross. They needed a deeply confirmed faith.

So do we. We face a lot of faith-sapping realities in our world. And God does give us “Transfiguration Moments” too – times when the thin veil of hard reality is lifted and we glimpse the face of God. These moments may come at the birth of a child, the devotion of a beloved, the majesty of nature, the simplicity of silence, the deliverance from harm, the momentary awareness that our breath belongs to God.

We must savor and store these Lights, like the three disciples did, to strengthen ourselves for the shadows. As Peter says in his epistle:

… we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.


Poetry: Transfiguration – Malcolm Guite

For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

Music: Transfiguration by Carey Landry

We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of Jesus.
We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of the Son.
And oh, how his beauty transforms us, the wonder of presence abiding.
Transparent hearts give reflection of Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.
Jesus, Lord of Glory, Jesus, Beloved Son, oh, how good to be with you;
how good to share your light; how good to share your light.

Alleluia: How Beautiful!

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 5, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer me an invitation to write a more personal reflection than usual.

Recently, our community has experienced the deaths of two dearly loved sisters. Readers might remember that I mentioned Margery’s funeral a few days ago. And just yesterday, Clare Miriam died. Each of them was an amazing minister of the Gospel and lover of God’s poor.

See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news, 
announcing peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O beloved,
fulfill your vows!

Nahum 2:1

Because most of us live in communities – familial, social, and religious – we all move through ever-turning circles of hellos and good-byes. In those turnings, we touch one another’s lives in a thousand obvious and subtle ways, hopefully causing our own lives to spin ever closer to God.

Funerals – even though we don’t look forward to them – are times when the circling pauses. We see a beloved person’s complex and amazing existence like a still life masterpiece. We see the graceful details we may have overlooked or taken for granted. We appreciate the lights and shadows of their struggles and triumphs. We see God standing behind the easel of their story inviting us to deepen our own graces as we pray.

In a large and long-loved community like the Sisters of Mercy, we accompany one another through many funerals and many home-goings. It can feel a little heavy sometimes because of the love we bear another. But, oddly, it can also give an unexpected buoyancy to our hope and faith to honor these precious lives – one after another – so lovingly given, so faithfully lived, so beautifully completed.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.

Matthew 16:25-27

After Margery’s funeral Mass, my friend turned to me and said, “What a tribute to a truly beautiful soul …. and we live in a community full of them!” Indeed, and now another, dear Clare has lifted her life up to God as the rest of us sing, “Brava! Alleluia! Amen!”

Whenever I attend one of our sister’s funerals, of course, I consider my own. Sometimes, while the soulful music plays, I design the Mass booklet in my mind and the cover says this: 

My dear Sisters of Mercy,
thank you 
for the privilege and gift 
of living among you!


Poetry: The Neophyte- Alice Meynell

Who knows what days I answer for to-day?
   Giving the bud I give the flower. I bow
   This yet unfaded and a faded brow;
Bending these knees and feeble knees, I pray.
 Thoughts yet unripe in me I bend one way,
   Give one repose to pain I know not now,
   One check to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.
 O rash! (I smile) to pledge my hidden wheat.
   I fold to-day at altars far apart
Hands trembling with what toils? In their retreat
   I seal my love to-be, my folded art.
I light the tapers at my head and feet,
   And lay the crucifix on this silent heart.

Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeanette Goglia, RSM

Alleluia: Pray with Peter

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest
August 4, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080422.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, I am going to invite you to pray with the star of our Gospel, Peter.

Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

And I will be honest with about why I offer that invitation. I got mixed up on the date (which I often do) and wrote a reflection for Friday instead of Thursday. It was well into the day when I discovered the error and didn’t want to be too late for my Australian and Pacific Rim friends. So I have gone back to an earlier reflection on dear St. Peter.

I hope it is helpful to your prayer. And you will just have to wait to see what I really wrote as I prayed today with Friday’s “advance readings” !

Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_012
Peter Denies Christ – Rembrandt

Simon Peter – John Poch


There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand.
The way of an eagle in the air,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the heart of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid

–Prov. 30:18, 19

                              I
Contagious as a yawn, denial poured
over me like a soft fall fog, a girl
on a carnation strewn parade float, waving
at everyone and no one, boring and bored
There actually was a robed commotion parading.
I turned and turned away and turned. A swirl

of wind pulled back my hood, a fire of coal
brightened my face, and those around me whispered:
You’re one of them, aren’t you? You smell like fish.
And wine, someone else joked. That’s brutal. That’s cold,
I said, and then they knew me by my speech.
They let me stay and we told jokes like fisher-
men and houseboys. We gossiped till the cock crowed,
his head a small volcano raised to mock stone.

                              II
Who could believe a woman’s word, perfumed
in death? I did. I ran and was outrun
before I reached the empty tomb. I stepped
inside an empty shining shell of a room,
sans pearl. I walked back home alone and wept
again. At dinner. His face shone like the sun.

I went out into the night. I was a sailor
and my father’s nets were calling. It was high tide,
I brought the others. Nothing, the emptiness
of business, the hypnotic waves of failure.
But a voice from shore, a familiar fire, and the nets
were full. I wouldn’t be outswum, denied
this time. The coal-fire before me, the netted fish
behind. I’m carried where I will not wish.

Music:  Peter’s Song – Jacob Moon

Alleluia: An Ageless Love

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 3, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080322.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited the people.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings carry the themes of Hope and Restoration.

Jeremiah tells the people that, even after all they’ve been through, God has an age-old love for them and therefore will not abandon them.

Jeremiah continues with a description of the future coming of the Savior, promising that Israel will be restored:

Yes, a day will come when the watchmen
will call out on Mount Ephraim:
“Rise up, let us go to Zion,
to the LORD, our God.”
For thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered the people,
the remnant of Israel.

Our Alleluia Verse announces that this expected Savior has arrived in Jesus Christ, the Divine Shepherd, Lord, Guardian and Redeemer whom Jeremiah describes in our Responsorial Psalm.

Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited the people.


Matthew’s Gospel today, which can seem a little contentious in tone, actually demonstrates the surprising truth that Jesus came not only for the sake of Israel, but for all people — for us.

We are all beneficiaries of God’s age-old love for us.

Poetry: You are the future, the great sunrise red – Rainer Maria Rilke

You are the future, the great sunrise red
above the broad plains of eternity.
You are the cock-crow when time’s night has fled,
You are the dew, the matins, and the maid,
the stranger and the mother, you are death.

You are the changeful shape that out of Fate
rears up in everlasting solitude,
the unlamented and the unacclaimed,
beyond describing as some savage wood.

You are the deep epitome of things
that keeps its being’s secret with locked lip,
and shows itself to others otherwise:
to the ship, a haven — to the land, a ship.


Music: I Have Loved You – Michael Joncas 

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his light and his peace.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his joy and his hope.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his care and his love.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Alleluia: God of the Storm

Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 2, 2022

Alleluia, alleluia.
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080222.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we begin with a puzzling passage from Jeremiah. Verses 12-15 describe an Israel which, spiritually, is terminally ill.

For thus says the LORD:
Incurable is your wound,
grievous your injury;

There is none to plead your case,
no remedy for your running sore,
no healing for you.

Jeremiah 30: 12-14

The puzzling part comes with the dramatic shift at verses 16-17 when God seems to step out of Israel’s storm to cure her:

Yet all who devour you shall be devoured,
all your enemies shall go into exile.
All who plunder you shall become plunder,
all who pillage you I will hand over to be pillaged.l

For I will restore your health;
I will heal your injuries—oracle of the LORD.
“The outcast” they have called you,
“whom no one looks for.”

Jeremiah 30: 16-17

So what’s the point of the whole Jeremiah passage for us? Perhaps for today we can find that meaning in Matthew’s story of the stormy sea.

… the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.

It’s rather easy to find God on a clear, pleasant day. It’s not so easy when God walks toward us out of life’s storms. Jeremiah was challenging Israel to find God in a storm. Jesus is challenging Peter to trust and do the same.

God doesn’t send storms to test us. Life is just stormy some times — that’s just the way it is. Faith asks us to trust that God is with us at such times and can use even chaotic circumstances to bring us closer to God’s heart. Hananiah was afraid to believe that so he made up a lie. Peter was half-brave enough to try to believe, and Jesus helped him the rest of the way.

At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”

Oh boy, that first step into nothing but waves is a doozy, isn’t it! But with God’s help, we can pass through the storm holding God’s hand into even deeper faith and trust for the rest of life’s voyage.

But when Peter saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Poetry: Catastrophe Is Next to Godliness – Franny Choi

Lord, I confess I want the clarity of catastrophe but not the catastrophe.
Like everyone else, I want a storm I can dance in.
I want an excuse to change my life.
The day A. died, the sun was brighter than any sun.
I answered the phone, and a channel opened
between my stupid head and heaven, or what was left of it. The blankness
stared back; and I made sound after sound with my blood-wet gullet.
O unsayable—O tender and divine unsayable, I knew you then:
you line straight to the planet’s calamitous core; you moment moment moment;
you intimate abyss I called sister for a good reason.
When the Bad Thing happened, I saw every blade.
And every year I find out what they’ve done to us, I shed another skin.
I get closer to open air; true north.
Lord, if I say Bless the cold water you throw on my face,
does that make me a costume party. Am I greedy for comfort
if I ask you not to kill my friends; if I beg you to press
your heel against my throat—not enough to ruin me,
but just so—just so I can almost see your face—

Music: God of the Storm – The Freemans

Alleluia: God’s Word Brings Grace

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori,
Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Monday, August 1, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080122.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings convey compelling stories and life-changing miracles.

The passage from Jeremiah tells the tale of the false prophet Hananiah. He didn’t tell the people the truth. He was a kind of ancient “prosperity preacher” who spun a message similar to one we might hear today.

Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, the gospel of success, or seed faith)is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Material and especially financial success is seen as a sign of divine favor.

Wikipedia

Prosperity religion in centered on “me” and what I have to do to have “enough” and “more than enough” material goods and spiritual assurances.


Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.

In our reading from Matthew, Jesus acts out the true Gospel. It is centered on others,especially those in need.

Picture the moment. Jesus has been gut-punched by the barbarous murder of his beloved friend and cousin John. He wants to be alone to mourn. Watch him, in your heart’s eye, as he rows alone across the lake to a place of longed-for solitude. Every swish and pull through the water is a memory of John, is a hope and fragment of the dream they shared. Every oar’s dipping is a word with his Father to understand the “why”.

And yet, on the lake’s other side, where the needy crowd has found him out, he sets his own need aside. Jesus heals. He feeds. He teaches. He IS for the other not himself.

His words summarize what his actions model. He tells the gathered people that he has fed their bodies – met their material needs. But there is so much more to spiritual wholeness. Every word from the mouth of God — even the word that John had died — every word brings grace, and the call to feed and heal the world around us.

Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.


Poetry: Not By Bread Alone – James Terry White

If thou of fortune be bereft,
And thou dost find but two loaves left
To thee—sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

But not alone does beauty bide
Where bloom and tint and fragrance hide;
The minstrel's melody may feed
Perhaps a more insistent need.

But every beauty, howe'er blent
To ear or eye, fails to content;
Only the heart, with love afire,
Can satisfy the soul's desire.

Music:  Not by Bread Alone- M. Roger Holland II