When Darkness Looms

Friday, June 1, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060118.cfm

temple Mark 11

Today, in Mercy, Mark’s Gospel paints a picture of Jesus in a whirlwind of emotions. He has come to Jerusalem well aware of the pharisaical negativity stalking him. Yet, recently – on Palm Sunday – the crowds had gathered around Him in what later would prove to be a fickle adulation.

After an overnight in Bethany, He returns to Jerusalem disgruntled, cursing a fig tree for its barrenness. He casts the money-changers from the Temple, tossing the tables over in an angry display. This side of Jesus must have made the disciples uneasy and afraid. They too begin to realize that the forces of evil and death are closing in on Jesus.

What lesson can we learn for our lives when dark times begin to overwhelm us? Jesus gives us the answer late in the reading:

~ Have faith in God. 

~ Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it.

~ Forgive, so that you may be forgiven.

It is a formula we will see Jesus practice in His own Passion and Death. Like all true leaders, He practices what He preaches. He is teaching his followers – us – how to live in our dark times.

Music: The Lord is Near ~ The Dameans


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/053118.cfm


Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that sacred act of hospitality to Elizabeth and to all of us who long for the coming of Christ in our lives. In this Gospel, Mary offers the most lyrical masterpiece of theology ever delivered – the Magnificat. For our prayer today, we might simply savor these words, replete with meaning and challenge. 

The Magnificat, a song of hope and encouragement for those who are poor and disenfranchised, is considered a sacramental prayer among Nicaraguans. Let’s pray for them today as their country once again experiences tremendous political turmoil.

Music: Latin Magnificat sung by the Daughters of Mary


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/053018.cfm

1 Pet1_18 ransomed

Today, in Mercy, Peter tells us that we have been ransomed at an infinite price – the blood of Jesus. And what have we been ransomed from? The early Christians were quite familiar with slavery, some having been enslaved themselves. Peter shows them that their souls too may be enslaved.

In any form, slavery is a restriction or loss of freedom. It may be physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual or intellectual. It is that place where our Truth is constricted by the negativity of another force.

Peter tells us that we have been freed “so that our faith and hope are in God” and not in anything that can chain our souls. He tells us that we have been born anew so that we can love one another intensely from a pure heart.

Today, let’s pray for those, even ourselves, enslaved in any way – through illness, addiction, stereo-typing, racism, domination, poverty or ignorance; for those who are trafficked, for immigrants cruelly separated from family, for the unjustly or inhumanely imprisoned, for those forced from their homeland by war and violence.

Let us pray for conversion and forgiveness for any role we may have played, however unwittingly, in sustaining these social evils.

Music: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s opera Nabucco. Inspired by Psalm 137, this mournful melody recalls the enslavement of Jews during the Babylonian Captivity.

Listen for Angels

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052918.cfm

1Pet 1_12 Angels

Today, in Mercy, we begin reading Peter’s first epistle. Addressed to Christians dispersed through Asia Minor, the letter reminds them of the revelations of the prophets passed down to them and ultimately realized in in the Person of Christ. Peter instructs these early Christians to persevere in trials because they are now the bearers of this continuing divine revelation.

Today, we are the agents in that evolving revelation of the mystery of salvation. How we live as Christians opens the world’s insight into God’s Mercy and Love. Our testing ground is not a Roman persecution. It is a prevailing culture of death and degradation of the human person. This culture mesmerizes and poisons us to the point that we fail to see the glorious mysteries revealing themselves in our lives.

Peter says that even the angels long to look into these glorious mysteries. And yet, through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been given that blessing. It deserves our continual, grateful and responsive attention.

Listen for the angels circling your life today, singing “Look, the glory of God is here!” – in a child’s smile, a beloved’s hand, a gentle sunset, a raging storm – a call to mercy, justice, forgiveness, or generosity.

Music: Emanuel ~ Tim Manion

Even though this is an Advent/Christmas hymn, it captures the gift of revelation in Christ announced to us by the songs of angels. A lovely hymn.

In Memory

Monday, May 28, 2018


Memorial Day

Today, in Mercy, we pray for all who have died as a result of war, especially our deceased servicemen and women.

May we, as a human family, realize the awful sinfulness of war. May we do all we can to help all people live in peace.

Music:  Below is a link to Michael Hoppé’s moving album Requiem.  I hope you are moved by listening to some or all of it, as we pray for world peace and justice.

Trinity: Incomprehensible Love

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052718.cfm


Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the most profound mysteries of our faith. The first reading shows us that human beings have been trying to understand this mystery ever since the time of Moses! The readings from both Romans and Matthew describe the power of God’s triune love in those who believe. But none of the readings really explain the Holy Trinity.

And that’s the whole point. “Mystery” cannot be explained.. We fumble around with human words in an attempt to capture a reality beyond words, beyond analysis – but not beyond faith. Mystery can only be encountered in humble and undemanding faith.

Today, as Christians, we profess our belief in a God Who is incomprehensible Infinite Love creating, redeeming and sanctifying all Creation. This Infinite Love is so pure and complete that, within its Unity, it both embraces and frees the three Persons of the Trinity.

Pope Francis has said, “The Christian community, though with all its human limitations, can become a reflection of the communion of the Trinity, of its goodness and beauty.”  Our prayer today is to grow in our capacity to love in imitation of the Trinity. May we, as individuals and as a Church, increase in that merciful inclusivity and wholeness which reflects the triune love of God, at once embracing and freeing all that we love.

Music: Grace ~ Michael Hoppè – May this reflective piece offer us the space to enter into God’s Presence.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052618.cfm

James 5_pray

Today, in Mercy, in our first reading, James tells us to pray. In the Gospel, Jesus gives us a wonderful clue about how to pray – with the innocence and openness of a child. Throughout our lives, as we deepen in our spiritual life, prayer becomes simpler. More often it is silence rather than words; presence rather than petition; quiet trust rather than expectation.

As with all relationships, the more comfortable we are with our companion, the fewer words are necessary. It is enough to sit quietly with someone we love to savor each other’s presence. So it is with prayer.  It is in this sense that St. Paul tells us to “pray always”. We are always in the loving presence of God Who delights in us and wills our good.

It is in this sense, as well, that our prayers are always answered. Our prayers are not requests or demands. They are the opening of our experience to the Presence of God so that God pervades our life with grace and holy understanding.

Because wordless music is a good analogy for prayer, please enjoy this rich orchestral rendition of Bach’s Arioso from Cantata 156, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, renowned conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in the early and mid-1900s.

Let Your “Yes” Be “Yes!”

Friday, May 25, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052518.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we once again are faced with “tough talk” readings. James is simply that kind of preacher. And, in the Gospel, Jesus takes on the gnarly topic of adultery. So it’s not going to be sweet inspiration today!

What both readings have in common is the quintessential call to integrity at the core of committed Christian life. Our word, given in compassion and mercy, should be our bond. Our loving care for ourselves and all Creation should be trustworthy and persevering. For a person of faith, “fake news” and “alternative facts” are simply code for the deceitful avoidance of our duty to love one another.

We should not allow deceit, indifference, pretense or abuse to ever adulterate our efforts to love. Respect for ourselves and for other human beings requires that we say “Yes” and “No” honestly. Our reverence for God demands that we offer the same loving veracity to God.

The covenant of marriage, or of religious profession, places this obligation in a particularly bright light. When we give ourselves in commitment to another, and receive their commitment in return, we imitate the Blessed Trinity who exist in the unity of selfless, creative love. This “Yes”or “I do” is tied to our very identity as a person capable of living in the mutuality of love as God does.

James and Jesus tell us today to take every care to treasure and protect such precious commitments by the deep integrity of our hearts.

Holy Trinity Icon by Andrej Rublëv, an Eastern Orthodox monk, considered to be one of the greatest medieval Russian painters of Orthodox icons and frescos.

Music: Russian Orthodox Chant ~ Srtensky Monastery Choir


Salted with Fire

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052418.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings are full of fire and brimstone. In the epistle, James takes on the tone and rhetoric of the Old Testament prophets, kind of scaring his listeners into better life choices.

In our Gospel, Jesus uses perhaps his harshest words to convince his listeners that choices for sin cripple and kill us – choices that damage the innocent, the poor, the weak, the ailing, the hungry, the marginalized in any way.

These readings tell us that to become holy, we must make holy choices. These are tough, sometimes stunning, choices that demand our attention, sacrifice and love. They are choices that will “cure” and preserve our spirits for eternal life, the way salt preserves food. They are ultimately those dichotomous life choices between self and others; between self and God.

Let us not misunderstand the Scriptures. There is nothing wrong with “self”. It is blessed and good. But self for self’s sake only is a road to isolation and spiritual death. Our selves are made to love God and others.

Music: Salt of the Earth ~ Wes King