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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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Isaiah Sings!

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr

August 14, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with a passage from the poet-prophet Isaiah in which he calls the people to rejoice at their deliverance.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!


Isaiah 12 is one of a number of hymns found outside the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament. Other examples are Exodus 15:1-18, 21 and Amos 4:13; 5:8-9; 9:5-6 (Craddock, Hayes, Holliday, Tucker: Preaching through the Christian Year)

For an excellent graphic overview of these “songs”, click here. I enjoyed studying this chart.


Isaiah’s first eleven chapters center on God’s judgement for Israel’s infidelity. But Isaiah is never without hope. Chapter 12 is a joyful and grateful hymn celebrating that hope.

Isaiah’s hymn hit the right chord for me today. I think hope is a little hard to come by in these pandemic days, don’t you? 

Besides Covid, there are quite a few others “stabs” out there as we try to float the hope’s balloon – unemployment, business uncertainty, climate concerns, natural disasters, political irresponsibility, leadership failures just to reference a few. For some, these issues are so oppressive that they, “feel like it’s the end of the world”.


Isaiah is the guy when we feel even a little bit like this. Isaiah was profoundly convinced that God is with us in all our experiences and will ultimately resolve them for our good.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.


Poetry: To Go into the Dark by Wendell Berry

To go into the dark with a light
is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark,
go without sight.
And find
that the dark too
blooms and sings
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

Music:  Winter Cold Night – John Foley, SJ

Yes, this is a Christmas song, but I think it carries the perfect feeling for today’s reflection. Indeed, Jesus Christ is our Hope. May his Light be born in us daily.

Dark, dark, the winter cold night. Lu-lee-lay.
Hope is hard to come by. Lu-lee-lay.
Hard, hard, the journey tonight. Lu—lee-lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide our poor, winter cold night.
And on earth, peace, good will among men.
Lean, lean, the livin' tonight. Lu-lee-lay.
Star seems darker sometimes. Lu-lee-lay.
Unto you is born this day a Savior.
Pain, yes, in the bornin' tonight. Lu lee—lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide our poor, winter cold night.

Psalm 78: It’s Harsh

Thursday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 13, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 78, one of the twelve “Psalms of Asaph”. These psalms have a common theme of God’s judgement relative to Israel’s faithlessness to the Law.

Psalm 78 is the second longest psalm, the whole of which reads a lot like a history lesson. It recounts God’s enduring faithfulness even in the face of Israel’s fickleness.

They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High,
and kept not his decrees.
They turned back and were faithless like their fathers;
they recoiled like a treacherous bow.


The psalm fits well with today’s readings. Poor Ezekiel is commanded by God to act out the impending Assyrian devastation of the kingdom. He has to pack up, dig through a wall, hide his face, and escape into the night — just as Israel will have to do when the conquerors besiege them. All this, because God is passing judgement on Israel’s infidelities and God wants them to recognize it.

They angered him with their high places
and with their idols roused his jealousy.
God heard and was enraged
and utterly rejected Israel.


Psalm 78 remembers this history and retells it for the instruction of the generations. It is a reminiscence not unlike one that we all practice, I think.

Sometimes, especially in prayer or retreat, don’t we look back over our lives to rediscover how God was with us even in difficulty and darkness? Even in our poorest choices and most stupid sins? Aren’t we gratefully surprised that God’s Mercy was the ultimate fruit of such trials? When we face new challenges, don’t we remind ourselves of these things for the sake of our future courage and hope?

That’s what Psalm 78 is doing. Israel messed up, suffered judgement, and was made new in Mercy. The psalmist wants future generations never to forget.


Each of us, both as individuals and within our communities, experience such cycles of sin and redemption. Each turn should make us stronger, grateful, more faithful. Our witness to God’s abiding mercy should be shared for the sake of the generations… our personal Psalm 78 – written not in words, but in the fidelity of our lives.

Psalm 78 is not pretty or easy. Life isn’t always that way either. In our Gospel, Jesus assures us that God is a generous Creator who wants to redeem us in Mercy. But we have to do our part too, or we could wind up like the unfaithful servant – defeated by our own selfish choices.


Poetry: Mercy by David Baker

Small flames afloat in blue duskfall, beneath trees
anonymous and hooded, the solemn trees—by ones
and twos and threes we go down to the water's level edge
with our candles cupped and melted into little pie-tins
to set our newest loss free. Everyone is here.

Everyone is wholly quiet in the river's hush and appropriate dark.
The tenuous fires slip from our palms and seem to settle
in the stilling water, but then float, ever so slowly,
in a loose string like a necklace's pearls spilled,
down the river barely as wide as a dusty road.

No one is singing, and no one leaves—we stand back
beneath the grieving trees on both banks, bowed but watching,
as our tiny boats pass like a long history of moons
reflected, or like notes in an elder's hymn, or like us,
death after death, around the far, awakening bend.

Music:  Mercy – Amanda Cook

Psalm 113: Awesome!

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 12, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 113, a magnificent hymn praising God in the heavens. 

The psalm is commonly used at Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church – and no wonder. How often in the evening do we look to the glorious skies, emblazoned with the setting sun, and turn our minds to God!

Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high,
and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?


It is in contemplating the sky’s immensity that we begin to appreciate the Divine Infinity.


Last night, I FaceTimed with my niece and her toddler boy, a joy she frequently offers me. During the call, my grandnephew carried his little tablet to the window, opened his “SkyView” app, and began exploring the heavens. Even the youngest “pueri” (Latin for “boys, children, servants”) spontaneously offer our Vespers in answer to God’s Beauty!


As we pray this psalm, at whatever time of day, we can let ourselves rest in silent awe, aware of God’s majesty – that Majesty which deigns to create, love and eternally sustain each one of us beloved “pueri”.


Poetry: Stars by Majorie Pickthall

Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com
Now in the West the slender moon lies low, 
And now Orion glimmers through the trees, 
Clearing the earth with even pace and slow, 
And now the stately-moving Pleiades, 
In that soft infinite darkness overhead 
Hang jewel-wise upon a silver thread. 
And all the lonelier stars that have their place, 
Calm lamps within the distant southern sky, 
And planet-dust upon the edge of space, 
Look down upon the fretful world, and I 
Look up to outer vastness unafraid 
And see the stars which sang when earth was made. 

Music: Laudate Pueri – Claudio Monteverdi

Laudate, pueri, Dominum; 
laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini benedictum 
ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.
A solis ortu usque ad occasum 
laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus, 
et super caelos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster, 
qui in altis habitat, 
et humilia respicit in caelo et in terra?
Suscitans a terra inopem, 
et de stercore erigens pauperem:
ut collocet eum cum principibus, 
cum principibus populi sui.
Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo, 
matrem filiorum laetantem.

Psalm 119: Sweet Word

Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin

August 11, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this feast of the beautiful St. Clare, we pray with Psalm 119. How perfect is the response phrase from our psalm!

How sweet to my taste is your promise!


Last night, we watched an old Colombo movie in which one of the characters was a vintner who had developed a peerless taste for fine wine. He could identify every detail – year, grape, region, price. He was the consummate connoisseur.

As I prayed this morning’s psalm, it struck me that through the intentional practice of prayer, we become connoisseurs of the spirit. We are able to discern ever more delicately those realities which carry grace to our souls.

How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!


As we deepen in spirit, we purify our taste from all that is not peace, goodness, justice, mercy, and charity. We let go of things that distract our souls from Love.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.


By our choices for what is truly precious, we build a legacy of sacred joy which sustains us throughout our lives:

Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
the joy of my heart they are.


from National Shine, Detroit

Poetry: from Clare of Assisi 

We become what we love 
and who we love shapes what we become. 
If we love things, we become a thing. 
If we love nothing, we become nothing. 
Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, 
rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, 
an image disclosed through transformation. 
This means we are to become vessels
of God's compassionate love for others.

Music: Mirror of Eternity (Clare of Assisi) – sung by John Michael Talbot

Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself
      through contemplation!
So that you too may feel what His friends feel
      as they taste the hidden sweetness
      which God Himself has reserved
      from the beginning
      for those who love Him
~ Clare of Assisi

Psalm 112: Key to Blessedness

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

August 10, 2020


“Beatus Vir” from a 9th Century Psalter

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 112, a poetic description of what “holiness-in-action” looks like. The psalm’s tone is reminiscent of the beloved passage from Proverbs 31,  “Who shall find a valiant woman…” Only this passage says, “Blessed is the man… Beatus vir”.

Both these passages give us a glimpse into the righteousness expected of one who is in covenant with God. That person reflects the Divine Righteousness of God in both word and deed.

The “righteousness of God” comes down to concrete actions
that intend generous rehabilitation of those without resources.
The Psalms sing of these concrete acts.

Walter Brueggemann

A slow reading of the psalm is a good prayer today, asking God to help us open our hearts and choices to this graceful righteousness.  The heavily masculine translation can be a little off-putting for the women among us though. So you might like to use this translation as I did.


Happy are those who revere God 
    and delight in doing his will. 
Their children will be greatly honored 
    and their grandchildren greatly blessed. 
Abundance will fill their houses
     as gratitude fills their hearts. 
They conduct their affairs with justice; 
    their integrity cannot be shaken. 
They give of themselves to the poor 
    and share their wealth with the needy. 
They are patient, cheerful, compassionate, 
    generous, impeccably fair. 
They harbor no regrets for the past 
    and no worries about the future. 
Their minds are centered in God,
    and they trust him with all their hearts.
They honor themselves, and are honored; 
    they walk with their heads held high. 
Their rising is like the sunrise, 
    and their light fills heaven and earth. 
Their righteousness shines on all people; 
    their good works endure forever.
from A Book of Psalms: Selections Adapted from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell

Poetry: from Rumi

Your acts of kindness
are iridescent wings
of divine love
which linger and continue
to uplift others
long after your sharing.


Music:  Beatus Vir – Antonio Vivaldi

Beatus vir qui timet Dominum,
In mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Blessed the man who fears the Lord,
in his commandments he delights greatly.

Psalm 85: A Bridge

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 9, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray again with beautiful Psalm 85, so famous for its described eschatological “kiss”.

I thought this painting captured the Kiss of Mercy and Justice. I could not find an attribution.

On this 19th Sunday, our psalm serves as a bridge connecting Elijah’s gentle whisper with Paul’s impassioned wish and Jesus’s invitation to walk on water.

These powerful readings will carry a personal message to every one of us if we take time to listen. As Psalm 85 confirms:

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD — Who proclaims peace.
Near indeed is salvation to those who stand in awe of God,
glory dwelling in our land.

Psalm 85: 9

We are shaped by our personal experiences
as well as the culture of our times.
For each of us this morning,
these realities carry a message
to our praying heart. 

  • Like Elijah, how is God whispering to me today?
  • Like Paul, what great desire for faith and blessing rises in my prayer?
  • Like Peter, what invitation to profound faith is God speaking to me?

Poetry: from Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

There comes a time when our eyes are opened.  And we come to realize that mercy is infinite.  We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude.  Mercy imposes no conditions. 

   And, lo!  Everything we have chosen has been granted to us.  And everything we rejected has also been granted.  Yes, we get back even what we rejected.  For mercy and truth are met together.  Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another. 

the character General Lowenhielm


Music: When God Whispers Your Name – Matthew West



When nobody listens
When nobody cares
When you lie wounded
And no one is there
When darkness surrounds you
And when your best friend is fear
When the words "I love you"
Are all you long to hear


That's when God whispers your name
He's never ashamed
To call you His own
Tha's when God whispers your name
In your darkest night
You'll never be alone
When God whispers your name


For the tired and weary
For the hopelessly lost
His arms will surround you
His blood has paid the cost
When all you hold onto
Is slipping through your hands
When there's no one to turn to
And no one understands

That's when God whispers your name
He's never ashamed
To call you His own
That's when God whispers your name
In your darkest night
You'll never be alone
When God whispers your name

Listen
A still, small voice
Calling
Calling

That's when God whispers your name
He's never ashamed
To call you His own
That's when God whispers your name
In your darkest night
You'll never be alone
When God whispers your name

Psalm 9: You Alone, O God

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest

August 8, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 9. It, together with Psalm 10, forms an acrostic which proclaims profound hope in God’s immutable justice, especially toward the poor and oppressed.

The LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has set up his throne for judgment.
He judges the world with justice;
he governs the peoples with equity.
When we read the entire psalm, we realize that the psalmist is in a lot of trouble:
Be gracious to me, LORD;
see how my foes afflict me!
You alone can raise me from the gates of death

Psalm 9:14

But for our verses today, the writer focuses on God and God’s power rather than on the psalmist’s own dire situation. As Walter Brueggemann writes:

In this poem [Psalms 9 & 10], the decisive party is Yahweh,
who governs powerfully and equitably. 

That kind of focus is a really good way to pray, especially when we are faced with an issue over which we have no power. In such a situation, we can spend a lot of time fretting for an inaccessible solution. It can help just to stop and place our trust in God Who abides with us in any suffering and never abandons us.

For the needy will never be forgotten,
nor will the hope of the afflicted ever fade.

Psalm 9:19

It’s not an easy task to give ourselves to such trusting prayer, but if we can, peace and healing ensue.

I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will delight and rejoice in you;
I will sing hymns to your name, Most High.

When my troubles recede,
they disappear before your power.
For you upheld my right and my hope,
seated on your throne, judging justly.


Poetry: Zion by Rudyard Kipling
Kipling used the image of Zion to inspire courage during World War I.
Kipling’s son had been killed in the war, so the poem is both a lament and a rally to hope.

The Doorkeepers of Zion,
They do not always stand
In helmet and whole armour,
With halberds in their hand;
But, being sure of Zion,
And all her mysteries,
They rest awhile in Zion,
Sit down and smile in Zion;
Ay, even jest in Zion;
In Zion, at their ease.


The Gatekeepers of Baal,
They dare not sit or lean,
But fume and fret and posture
And foam and curse between;
For being bound to Baal,
Whose sacrifice is vain,
Their rest is scant with Baal,
They glare and pant for Baal,
They mouth and rant for Baal,
For Baal in their pain!


But we will go to Zion,
By choice and not through dread,
With these our present comrades
And those our present dead;
And, being free of Zion
In both her fellowships,
Sit down and sup in Zion --
Stand up and drink in Zion
Whatever cup in Zion
is offered to our lips

Music: Marching to Zion (Come, We That Love the Lord) – a wonderfully melodious old hymn written by Isaac Watts, first published in his Hymns & Sacred Songs, 1707. A great song to wake up our morning and rouse up our trust.

The song became a Gospel staple often associated with the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s. Here is a Gospel rendering by The Famous Ward Gospel Singers.

Moses’s Psalm: Dark to Light

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 7, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once again with Deuteronomy 32, often referred to as the Psalm of Moses. And once again, our psalm links the heavy messages of our two main readings.

In our first reading from Nahum, the prophet describes Israel’s future restoration after the bloody destruction of Nineveh, chief city of the Assyrian conquerors.

In our Gospel, Jesus foretells his own Passion and Death, and the necessity that his disciples carry their own crosses.

The tenor of both readings is soberly captured in our psalm:

Learn then that I, I alone, am God,
and there is no god besides me.
It is I who bring both death and life,
I who inflict wounds and heal them.


Given the heavy, stormy morning here where I live, these readings are hitting me like a wet blanket! It’s hard to find the link to Light within them, but I believe there always is one – and I’ll suggest one subsequently. But first this.

Often in life, too, it’s hard to find the link to light. Harsh and insufferable realities can stubbornly darken our horizons.

Just this morning, I read about a podcast in which Michelle Obama had revealed a struggle with depression:

“These are not, they are not fulfilling times, spiritually,” Mrs Obama said. “I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.”


Mrs. Obama is describing her “Nineveh”.  Mine is pretty similar. What’s yours?
And how do we hold faith, even in the middle of “Nineveh”?

These assuring verses from Nahum offer the flicker of Light and the promise of Salvation. They encourage us to stay strong, remain faithful. We must keep lifting our eyes to the future that God dreams for all people, discerning its rising like the sun in a morning mist.

See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news, 
announcing peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O My people,
fulfill your vows!
…. The LORD will restore the beloved vine,
its hope, courage and strength …


Poetry: The Good God and the Evil God – Kahlil Gibran

The Good God and the Evil God 
met on the mountain top.
The Good God said, 
“Good day to you, brother.”
The Evil God did not answer.

And the Good God said, 
“You are in a bad humour today.”
“Yes,” said the Evil God, 
“for of late I have been often mistaken for you, 
called by your name, and treated 
as if I were you, and it ill-pleases me.”
And the Good God said, 
“But I too have been mistaken for you 
and called by your name.”

The Evil God walked away 
cursing the stupidity of humankind.

Music: How Beautiful – Joe Wise

Psalm 97: Majesty

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

August 6, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this glorious Feast of the Transfiguration, we pray with Psalm 97 which prophesies the messianic era when God will reign supreme over the earth. Its verses announce God’s sovereignty, establishment of justice, and universal joy.

Transfiguration by Giovanni Bellini

Our Gospel describes the moment when Jesus gave his three disciples a glimpse of that future glory in order to sustain them through the sufferings to come.


As we pray Psalm 97 today, we might think of our experiences of God’s beauty, tenderness, and joy. Remembering and storing these small, accumulated revelations helps us to hold faith in times of darkness or trouble.

In Martin Luther King’s final speech the night before he was assassinated, he spoke of his own such transfiguring moments and the courageous faith they inspired in him:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.


Also in our prayer today, we are mindful of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an event which represents the complete inversion of God’s will for the Peaceful Kingdom. 

Majesty, turned inside out by our sin, becomes terror.

Robert Oppenheimer, one of the designers of the atomic bomb, reflecting on the bomb’s first test, said that as he watched the huge blast wave ripple out over the New Mexico desert, a line from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita came to mind: “Now I am become Death the Destroyer of Worlds.


Psalm 97 reminds us that all Creation belongs to God:

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.

If, by faith, we learn to see and reverence God’s glory in all things, we can be delivered from the terrors of war, racism, and every other deathly weapon which threatens us. As Psalm 97 so encouragingly closes:

You who love the LORD, hate evil,
God protects the souls of the faithful,
rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Light dawns for the just,
and gladness for the honest of heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.


Poetry: Origami by Joyce Sutphen 

In Hiroshima’s Peace Park there is a statue of Sadako Sasaki lifting a crane in her arms. Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped; she was diagnosed with leukemia ten years later. The Japanese believe that folding a thousand origami cranes brings good fortune. Sadako spent the last months of her young life folding hundreds of paper cranes. She folded 644 before she died.


Origami

It starts
with a blank sheet,
an undanced floor,
air where no sound
erases the silence.

As soon as
you play the first note,
write down a word,
step onto the empty stage,
you've moved closer
to the creature inside.

Remember—
a square
can end up as frog, cardinal,
mantis, or fish.
You can make
what you want,
do what you wish.

Music: Our God Reigns – James Kilbane

How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of him

Who brings good news,good news

Announcing peace, proclaiming

News of happiness.

Our God reigns; our God reigns!

Chorus:

Our God reigns!

Our God reigns!

Our God reigns!

Our God reigns!

He had no stately form;

He had no majesty,

That we should be

drawn to Him.

He was despised,

and we took no account of Him,

Yet now He reigns

With the Most High.

Out of the tomb He came

With grace and majesty;

He is alive, He is alive.

God loves us so see here His hands,

His feet, His side.

Yes, we know

He is alive.

Jeremiah: An Ancient Love

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 5, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with a beautiful pastoral segment from Jeremiah. This Responsorial Psalm follows on the first reading, both passages affirming God’s everlasting love for us.

Jeremiah wrote at a time of great suffering and confusion for Israel. The Kingdom was falling apart, having been beset by overwhelming enemies. Near the end of Jeremiah’s life, the nation falls into the Babylonian Captivity. Much of the Book of Jeremiah prophesies, judges, and laments these troubles.

But today’s verses come from Chapters 30 – 33, part ofJeremiah often referred to as the “Book of Comfort” or “Little Book of Consolation.” These are the brighter and more hopeful chapters of an otherwise heavy set of writings.

Moreover, these three chapters speak to a significant shift in understanding God’s relationship with Israel. The original covenant with Abraham is stated in conditional terms- “You will be my People and I will be your God”. I hate to use the now sullied term, but it was sort of a “quid pro quo”.

The renewed covenant described in Jeremiah is an unconditional relationship sustained, despite Israel’s weaknesses, by a Divine and Everlasting Love, by the Good Shepherd:

As Israel comes forward to be given his rest,
the LORD appears to him from afar:
With age-old love I have loved you;
so I have kept my mercy toward you.


As we look over our lives past and present, we can pray in gratitude that we are embraced by the same Ancient and Everlasting Love.

Probably each of us has had a few personal little “Babylons”. We may even have had some of our personal “temples” destroyed. You know, those self-absorbed campaigns and petty addictions that distract us from the sacred essence of our life that:

We are God’s Love made flesh,
called to live in that Truth.


Video Poem: Three Poems from Rilke’s Book of Hours

Music: This Ancient Love – Carolyn McDade