Saturday, April 21, 2018
Readings: Acts 9:31-42, Psalm 116, John 5:60-69
Today, in Mercy, we meet the disciple Tabitha who was “completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving”. Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, – a prosperous and influential woman – had died. Her community, greatly distressed at her passing, called on Peter to come to them immediately. He did, which proves the esteem in which Tabitha was held. She, like many other women in the early Church, played an integral part in the growth of Christianity. Through the centuries, women in the Church have struggled with a culture of second class citizenship. Recalling the discipleship roles of women like Tabitha can inspire continued conversion from such misperceptions. (Today, no music. The second powerful image is from Sister Helen David Brancato, IHM.)
Friday, April 20, 2018:
Readings: Acts 9:1-20, Psalm 117:1-2; John 6:52-59
Today, in Mercy, we ride with Paul on the road to Damascus. His soul is struck by grace and he realizes his sinfulness – that he has failed to see the presence of God in all people. He turns from his persecution to actually become a Christian himself. Conversion!
One wonders what that same road might look like today – the countryside and its people devastated by the continuing Syrian War. War would be impossible if we truly could see the face of God in one another. Let’s pray today for a conversion of hearts in leaders, in all those who profit from war, and in ourselves. Let’s pray especially for the people devastated by war and the exercise of irresponsible power.
Thursday, April 19, 2018:
Readings: Acts 8:26-40; Ps. 66:8-20; John 6:44-51
Today, in Mercy, we pray with the Ethiopian eunuch (an alliterative and lyrical phrase with its own fascination). Philip finds this man reading Isaiah and asks if he understands the Scripture he is reading. The man replies, “How can I, unless someone show me?”
Indeed, how do we learn to believe without the witness of our many teachers in the faith?
Today, on my 73rd birthday, (in a rare personal departure from my usual pattern of reflections), I count the faithful witnesses in my own life who have shown me the way to God:
- my faith-filled parents, whose well-worn devotionals I can still picture, set in silent witness beside their chairs
- my devout only-brother who, with his loving wife, are living witnesses to faithful marriage, parenthood, and family
- their dear children, grandchildren, and in-law children who faithfully reflect the miraculously recurring love of this family to which they have been born or wed
- my extended Catholic family, some who lived centuries before me, who carried the faith to my cradle
- the Sisters who taught me in my initial twelve years of Catholic education, each of whose names I can still repeat in grateful prayer
- my own dear Sisters of Mercy who share covenanted life with me, in an awesome hymn to the presence of God in our humble yet glorious lives
- my many companions in ministry, friendship, hope, service, and labor for these many years
- the kind people who have allowed me to serve them so that I might learn the face of God
- my precious, loving friends – beyond price, beyond description
Perhaps you, dear readers, may wish to join me in thanksgiving for those who have nourished your lives by the gift of their faithful witness. And whenever your birthday falls, may you be blessed with happiness.
This song is a great way to pray your thanksgiving.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018:
Readings: Acts 8:1-8; Ps. 66:1-6; John 6:25-40
Today, in Mercy, Jesus talks about hunger. But He doesn’t mean the longing for steak, or bread, or chocolate. Jesus is talking about that profound hunger to really live, to deeply love and be loved, to make a difference with our lives. These hungers can be satisfied only in that invisible, mysterious place where the soul is inextricably tied to God. This is the place of eternal life where, from the moment God breathed life into us, we were marked forever as God’s own. We can get so mixed up about our emptiness! We try to fill it with money, fame, material goods, sex and power. While the only Gift that can ever fill it has already been given! (For your quiet reflection, Boccherini”s Cello Concerto in D major, G. 479 – II. Adagio, by famed late cellist Mstoslav Rostropovich)
Tuesday, April 17, 2018: Today, in Mercy, we again pray with Stephen, who echoes the forgiving voice of Jesus as he gives up his life. How could Stephen, how could Jesus, forgive their murderers? In their dying, how could they turn their spirits toward God in love and hope? Jesus and Steven had already given their lives completely to God – throughout all their joyful and sorrowful seasons. When the time came for the leaves to finally fall, their spirits were convinced that God’s life in them would abide.
We face many small deaths in our lives before our final hour. As we learn to let the leaves fall into God’s renewing love and Mercy, we grow more like Jesus. We are filled with the power of God’s freedom and Light. ( The song is not my favorite genre, but it is very powerful, I think.)
Monday, April 16, 2018: Today, in Mercy, we meet Stephen, proto-martyr of the Christian faith. Like Jesus, Stephen is persecuted for his goodness. Like Jesus, Stephen had false witnesses presented against him. How can Love survive in the absence of Truth? And yet, as today’s Gospel assures is, it does. We live in a time that has forgotten the essence and value of truthfulness. We live in a world where some people’s lives are a lie – a pretense of who they truly are as children of God. But our faith calls us to truth, mercy, justice and commitment to Christ’s teachings. May we be inspired by the witness of Stephen and his companions to tell the truth, be the truth, call for truth in others.
Sunday, April 15, 2018: Today In Mercy, Jesus opens the minds and hearts of his followers to understand that He is the fulfillment of the Scriptures. Faith is like the evolution of a beautiful flower. The miracle does not happen all at once. There is a patient, silent process which finally yields the blossom. In these stories of the Resurrection appearances, the early Christians are showing us how they matured through trust, prayer and a shared community of faith. It is a model for us and the whole Church. Many of us will attend services this weekend. Is there a mutual nourishment between us and our faith community? If not, how can I help change that?
Saturday, April 14, 2018: Today, in Mercy, Jesus walks across the stormy water to meet his frightened disciples. They are afraid of the wind, the night and the wonder of Jesus. As human beings, we harbor many fears even if we pretend to be very brave. We may be afraid of failure, loneliness, responsibility, insignificance, aging, dying or a thousand other things. Essentially, what we most fear is that we might be unloved or unlovable. Jesus comes to us through the night of any fear to prove that we are irrevocably loved. Even in darkness, we are the precious breath and heartbeat of God!
“Who would I be, and what power would be expressed in my life,
if I were not dominated by fear.” ~Paula D’Arcy~
Friday, April 13, 2018: Today, in Mercy, Jesus multiplies the loaves and fishes. This is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, that is recorded in all four Gospels.
Jesus teaches us, in the story of the loaves and fishes, that the ordinary bread of our lives is the stuff of miracles. What makes the difference between Stroehmann’s and the Supernatural is FAITH! When we really believe we are marked for eternal life, our whole perspective changes. It takes courage to believe, but if we can, multitudes will be nourished by our faith! You know what I’m saying. Hasn’t the faith of your ancestors nourished you and all the generations in between? Hasn’t the witness of the saints, both canonized and known only to us, anchored our souls through many a storm? Be holy bread for your world, dear friends! ( Lovely song from Joe Wise for your prayer.)
Thursday, April 12, 2016: Today, in Mercy, we hear an amazing promise in John’s Gospel. We who believe have already been given the gift of eternal life.
At the same time, the words are scary. Is my faith strong enough? What about when I doubt or question God? Faith is not about surety. It is about the choice to trust and live in a way that gives witness to that trust. Do not fear your doubts and questions. God is big enough for all of them. Give them to God and as the poet Rilke says:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.”