Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 115, bringing a welcome comfort after the always disturbing story of Isaac’s aborted sacrifice.

This story fascinated Rembrandt. Notice the differences between the 1635 and 1655 interpretations. The old man in the 1655 image has darkened eyes, covers his son’s eyes – not his mouth, and embraces the boy in his lap not laid out on an altar. Old age has gentled what Rembrandt found in the story.

But here’s what I think. It was never about a human sacrifice. God was never going to let that happen.

It was about whether Abraham’s trust would allow him to really see God – God who is never a God of death, but always of life.

As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”

We live in a world full of choices that run the gamut from death-dealing to life-giving. They may be small, personal choices like what we eat, or how we drive. Or they may be more consequential choices such as the political views we foster or the global ideologies we embrace.

Psalm 115 helps us to solve any confusion we might have about our choices. Always make the choices that lead ourselves and others to the land of the living.

Abraham must have been thrown into the dark by what he believed was God’s expectation of him. But it was really Abraham’s own expectation that had to be broken through. He did this by staying with his pain while trusting that God was bigger than it.

Christine Robinson’s interpretation of Psalm 115 fits well here:

O Great Mystery
   We must love and praise you without understanding.
You are not a little tin god
   with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear
   and a mouth that does not speak.
You can not be described or boxed up or tamed
   You are beyond our understanding.
Still, we yearn to hear you, know you,
   feel your love, and in mystery, we do.
We know awe at the intricate majesty of the heavens,
We cherish the work of caring for each other 
and the Earth.
We praise you, Great Mystery
   all the days of our lives.

Poetry: Silence – Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Abraham failed the test.
For Sodom and Gomorrah he argued
but when it came to his son
no protest crossed his lips.
God was mute with horror.
Abraham, smasher of idols
and digger of wells
was meant to talk back.
Sarah would have been wiser
but Abraham avoided her tent,
didn’t lay his head in her lap
to unburden his secret heart.
In stricken silence God watched
as Abraham saddled his ass
and took Isaac on their final hike
to the place God would show him.
The angel had to call him twice.
Abraham’s eyes were red, his voice hoarse
he wept like a man pardoned
but God never spoke to him again.

(It is true that, in Genesis, this is the last recorded exchange between God and Abraham!)

Music: Story of Isaac – Leonard Cohen

(If there’s no picture below, just click on the underlined phrase “Watch on Youtube

The door, it opened slowly
My father, he came in
I was nine years old
And he stood so tall above me
Blue eyes, they were shining
And his voice was very cold
Said, "I've had a vision
And you know I'm strong and holy
I must do what I've been told"
So we started up the mountain
I was running, he was walking
And his axe was made of gold

Well, the trees, they got much smaller
The lake, a lady's mirror
When we stopped to drink some wine
Then he threw the bottle over
Broke a minute later
And he put his hand on mine
Thought I saw an eagle
But it might have been a vulture
I never could decide
Then my father built an altar
He looked once behind his shoulder
He knew I would not hide

You who build these altars now
To sacrifice these children
You must not do it anymore
A scheme is not a vision
And you never have been tempted
By a demon or a god
You, who stand above them now
Your hatchets blunt and bloody
You were not there before
When I lay upon a mountain
And my father's hand was trembling
With the beauty of the word

And if you call me brother now
Forgive me if I inquire
Just according to whose plan?
When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must
I will help you if I can
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must
I will kill you if I can
And mercy on our uniform
Man of peace or man of war
The peacock spreads his fan

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 30, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34. We do so in the light of our first reading which tells us the heart-wrenching story of Hagar. 

As Hagar sat opposite Ishmael, he began to cry.
God heard the boy’s cry,
and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven:
“What is the matter, Hagar?
Don’t be afraid; God has heard the boy’s cry in this plight of his.
Arise, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand;
for I will make of him a great nation.”
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.
She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.

Genesis 21: 15-19

Surely Hagar, and her baby Ishmael, are “poor ones” whose cries the Lord hears.

When the poor ones called out, the LORD heard,
and from all distress saved them.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear God, and delivers them.

Psalm 34: 7-8

Hagar is the embodiment of a faith that has surrendered everything to God. She is pressed to it by the circumstances of her life. But even in that press, she has a choice: God or godlessness. 

God sees her heart choice and opens her eyes to its power:

Then God opened her eyes,
and she saw a well of water.
She went and filled the skin with water,
and then let the boy drink.

The revelation I take from today’s readings?

Even in our deepest thirsts, there is a “well of water” awaiting us when we live in faith and reverence for God:

Fear the LORD, you holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear God.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek God want for no good thing.

Psalm 34: 10-11

Poetry: Hagar in the Wilderness by Tyehimba Jess

My God is the living God,
God of the impertinent exile.
An outcast who carved me
into an outcast carved
by sheer and stony will
to wander the desert
in search of deliverance
the way a mother hunts
for her wayward child.
God of each eye fixed to heaven,
God of the fallen water jug,
of all the hope a vessel holds
before spilling to barren sand.
God of flesh hewn from earth
and hammered beneath a will
immaculate with the power
to bear life from the lifeless
like a well in a wasteland.
I'm made in the image of a God
that knows flight but stays me
rock still to tell a story ancient as
slavery, old as the first time
hands clasped together for mercy
and parted to find only their own
salty blessing of sweat.
I have been touched by my God
in my creation, I've known her caress
of anointing callus across my face. 
I know the lyric of her pulse
across these lips...  and yes,
I've kissed the fingertips
of my dark and mortal God.
She has shown me the truth
behind each chiseled blow
that's carved me into this life,
the weight any woman might bear 
to stretch her mouth toward her
one true God, her own
beaten, marble song.
sculptor: Edmonia Lewis (1845-1907), an African/Native American expatriate who was phenomenally successful in Rome.

Music: El Roi (Hagar’s Song)

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

 June 29, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34 which picks up a theme running through our first two readings about Peter and Paul- 

They needed to be 


“Rescue”, if not exactly a comforting word,carries a relieving tone. We don’t want to need rescuing, but if we do, we’re glad to get it.

I looked up the etymology of “rescue”. It comes from a Latin root excutere “to shake off, drive away,” from ex “out” + cutere, combining form of quatere “to shake”.

Excutere: to SHAKE OFF!

So what God did for Peter and Paul was to shake them free, a gift many of us may have prayed for at some time in our lives.

To be free from

As we celebrate the great Saints Peter and Paul, we might focus on today’s Gospel to understand the fullness of their emancipation. They were profoundly freed by their faith:

Jesus said to his disciples , “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

As we pray to be rescued from any present or future spiritual entanglements, let’s affirm our faith, as Peter and Paul did, by the way we live our lives.


The daughter of Sir Henry Sidney and Mary Dudley, Mary Sidney was born on 27 October 1561 at Tickenhall near Bewdley, Worcestershire, on the Welsh border while her father was serving as lord Governor of the marches of Wales. He had been a companion of King Edward, who died in his arms. Her mother, a well-educated woman who was a close friend of Queen Elizabeth, was the daughter of the Earl of Northumberland, who was virtual ruler of England in King Edward’s final years, and the sister of Elizabeth’s favorite, Robert Dudley. Lady Sidney was badly scarred by smallpox after nursing the queen, and thereafter rarely appeared at court.

Thy mercy, Lord, Lord, now thy mercy show:
                                         On thee I lie;
                                         To thee I fly.
                         Hide me, hive me, as thine own,
                         Till these blasts be overblown,
Which now do fiercely blow.
To highest God I will erect my cry,
                                         Who quickly shall
                                         Dispatch this all.
                         He shall down from heaven send
                         From disgrace me to defend
His love and verity.
My soul encaged lies with lions’ brood,
                                         Villains whose hands
                                         Are fiery brands,
                         Teeth more sharp than shaft or spear,
                         Tongues far better edge do bear
Than swords to shed my blood.
As high as highest heav’n can give thee place,
                                          O Lord, ascend,
                                          And thence extend
                         With most bright, most glorious show
                         Over all the earth below,
The sunbeams of thy face.
Me to entangle every way I go
                                         Their trap and net
                                          Is ready set.
                         Holes they dig but their own holes
                         Pitfalls make for their own souls:
So, Lord, oh, serve them so.
My heart prepared, prepared is my heart
                                         To spread thy praise
                                         With tuned lays:
                         Wake my tongue, my lute awake,
                         Thou my harp the consort make,
Myself will bear a part.
Myself when first the morning shall appear,
                                         With voice and string
                                         So will thee sing:
                         That this earthly globe, and all
                         Treading on this earthly ball,
My praising notes shall hear.
For god, my only God, thy gracious love
                                         Is mounted far
                                         Above each star,
                         Thy unchanged verity
                         Heav’nly wings do lift as high
As clouds have room to move.
As high as highest heav’n can give thee place,
                                         O Lord, ascend
                                         And thence extend
                         With most bright, most glorious show
                         Over all the earth below,
The sunbeams of thy face.

Music: Rescue  Me – Selah

A completely non-spiritual extra for today> I know some of you, of my vintage, are singing this song in your heads now. So here it is:

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

June 28, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103 which paints an incomprehensible God in the soft colors of kindness and mercy.

Face detail from Creation of the Sun and Moon by Michelangelo

Writers as early as the Genesis story have worked to put a face on God.

Artists have done the same.

And of course, the face is human because that is the only one we know.  In our first reading, we see the Lord reflecting, turning options over in his mind, keeping secrets, and allowing himself to be cajoled. It’s a very human conception of the Divine – because it’s the best we can do with our only human paint brush.

Reading today’s Genesis verses, I hear their counterpoint in the elegant hymn from Romans:

O the depth of the riches
of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments,
and untraceable His ways!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been His counselor?”
“Who has first given to God,
that God should repay him?”
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11: 33-36

How incalculably gracious of God to show us the Divine Heart in the human face and story of Jesus Christ.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation:
for by Him all things were created,
both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—
all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Colossians 1 15-16

In Christ, we find the true human face of God’s Mercy. As we deepen in prayer and imitation of Jesus, that Face becomes visible in us.

With the psalmist, we offer praise and thanks for:

The Lord is kind and merciful,
dealing with us not  according to our sins,
    nor requiting us according to our crimes.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so surpassing is God’s kindness 
    toward those who live in holy awe.

Psalm 103: 10-11

Poetry: Creature of God – Jessica Powers

That God stands tall, incomprehensible,
infinite and immutable and free
I know. Yet more I marvel as His call
trickles and thunders down through space to me.

that from His far eternities He shouts
to me, one small inconsequence of day.
I kneel down in the vastness of His love,
cover myself with creaturehood and pray.

God likes me covered with my creaturehood
and with my limits spread across His face
He likes to see me lifting to his eyes
even the wretchedness that dropped his grace.

I make no guess what greatness took me in.
I only know, and relish it as good,
that I am gathered more to God’s embrace
the more I greet him through my creaturehood.

Music: The Face of God – Manoling Francisco

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Healing of the Daughter of Jairus and the Woman with a Hemorrhage

Picture it.


It is a soft, summer morning in Capernaum and Jesus is in the height of his ministry. Large crowds follow him wherever he goes, crowds hungry with hope; crowds fired by his counter-cultural words and miraculous deeds. This morning, Jesus prepares to speak to them, to translate into language they can comprehend the Eternal Life that lives in his heart. His back is to the gentle, sunlit sea. The hubbub softens to a murmur, finally stilled by the lapping waves.

But before Jesus can begin, a distressed man bursts through the gathered crowd. His robes fly about him as he runs to Jesus and falls at his feet. This man is important, so important that we all have known his name for two thousand years. This is Jairus who lives nearby and organizes the worship in the synagogue. Now breathless and swallowing sobs, Jairus pleads with Jesus: Please! My daughter! You can give her life!

Every loving father has been Jairus at least once in his life. We know these fathers. We are these fathers. They are the ones who burst into emergency rooms with a seizing infant in their arms. They are the ones who stare blankly at the pronouncement of a stillborn child. They are the old men in war-ravaged countries who kneel at the sides of their fallen sons and desecrated daughters. They are all the men throughout history rendered helpless by the forces of unbridled power, greed and death.

The merciful heart of Jesus understands this man and his desperate urgency. Without even a word, Jesus gets up and accompanies Jairus to the place of his pleading.

But there is another urgency pushing forward from the crowds: a woman, apparently of low importance for we have never known her name. She is a woman whom the ages have defined by her affliction. She is “The Woman with the Hemorrhage”. Without the status of Jairus, she approaches Jesus as such a woman must. She crawls behind him at his heels, reaching through the milling masses to even scrape the hem of his garment.

This is a troubled woman, a stigmatized woman. Her life has been spent, literally, in embarrassment, isolation, fatigue and, no doubt, abuse. For twelve years – coincidentally the life span of Jairus’ s daughter – her vitality has bled out of her. Her face is gaunt; her eyes sunken. Her soul’s light is all but extinguished. She is a woman who knows a particular kind of scorn.

We know these women. We are these women. They are the ones filled with remorse for an aborted baby. They are the ones who miscarry their longed-for child. They are the women whose beautiful young sons are profiled, stereotyped and hunted on the violent streets. They are the mothers of “The Disappeared”. They are the women who suffer disproportionately from war, poverty, hunger and violence. They are trafficked women, prostituted women, women victimized by the long saga of domination. They are the women whose children have been torn from them at the borders.

It is just such a broken woman who stretches her fingers through the Galilean dust in a last reckless reach for healing. She finds only the hem of his robe. Touching it, she is transformed, like a parched meadow in the spring rain. Her whole being reaches up to receive the holy restoration. She knows herself to be healed. And it is enough; it is everything. She retreats into the resignation of her otherwise lonely life.

But Jesus wants more for us than just the practical miracles we beg for. We ask for one healing; Jesus wants our eternal salvation. We ask for one blessing; Jesus wants our entire lives to be filled with grace. We ask for one prayer to be answered; Jesus wants our life to become a prayer.

Jesus feels the electrical touch of her hope. He feels the secret healing she has extracted from him. He turns to seek her. Can you see their eyes meet? Yes, the bleeding has been stemmed, but he sees the deeper wounds that scar her soul. His look of immense mercy invites her to tell him “the whole truth”. By her touch, she has commandeered a physical healing. But by his gracious turning toward her, her entire being is renewed. In this sacred glance, her history has been healed. Her future has been pulled from darkness into light. Her capacity to love has been rekindled. She now and forever will remember herself as a child of God.

Jairus waits, no doubt impatiently, at the edge of this miracle, anxious for such power to touch his daughter’s life. He fears they have lingered too long with the woman. His servants arrive, confirming his fears. He receives the dreaded report, “Your daughter has died.”

Jesus now pushes Jairus to the gauntlet of pure faith. In the face of this devastating news, Jesus tells him, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” Is this not an almost impossible command? Like Jairus, we all know what it is to worry for our children:

  • Fathers of color teach their sons behaviors to protect them from profiling.
  • Immigrant parents fear their children will be ripped from them in a pre-dawn raid.
  • Famine-ravaged mothers watch their children disappear into hunger.
  • In hospitals and doctors’ offices, devastated parents summon the courage to accompany their critically ill child.

And Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid. Have faith.”! What can he possibly mean?

Perhaps it is this simple. In Jairus’s home, Jesus takes the dead girl’s hand. He says, “Talitha, koum – Little girl, arise.” His call to her heart tells her there is no darkness, devastation or death from which God cannot draw us into life. This is the truth Jesus brings to the little girl and to us. But it is a truth that, in our fear and need, we cannot always see.

For the moment, this girl lives. But at some time in history she, like all of us, will die. So the miracle is not the restoration of her life. The miracle is that her eyes, and her parents’ eyes, are opened to the power of God over death. Despite all appearances, God’s life endures eternally.

This is the revelation of this Gospel passage. If we live by faith, we live beyond cure into healing. If we live by faith, even death can bring life. If we live by faith, we are free to release all worry into the abundant mercy of God who grants us healing even beyond our asking or desire.

Man or woman, old or young, at some time in our lives each one of us has been Jairus. Each one of us has been one or the other of these two women. Within their stories of woundedness and deep faith, our stories shelter. Jairus and the afflicted women – unnamed like so many women throughout time – believed there was a way to new life. They reached for it. They begged for it. What is it in us that cries out for such healing? What is it in us that, without the touch of Jesus, teeters on the verge of death?

Simply by believing, these three Gospel figures became new beings. Simply by believing, their orientation changed from darkness to light. By their example, let us lift up those wounded and deadened places in our hearts and world before the loving gaze of Jesus.

To what suffering in our souls is God whispering the encouragement, “Talitha, koum”? What is the “whole truth” Jesus is inviting us to confide? Let us arise and respond to him in the full energy of our faith. Let us gaze with boundless confidence into the eyes of God’s mercy.

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 26, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once again with Mary’s exquisite prayer, the Magnificat. This prayer is so rich that we can pray it in many ways. Today’s other readings suggest to me to pray it as a prayer of spirited possibility.

For you, my God,
have done great things for me,
and Holy is your Name.
Your Mercy is from age to age
for those wrapped in awe of you.

In our first reading, Abraham and Sarah are the prototypes of such holy awe. Recognizing something godly in his visitors, Abraham welcomes them extravagantly.

Sarah is so struck by their predictions that she turns giddy.

Sometimes when we are overawed by our circumstances, we dissemble rather than quiet ourselves in reverence. God calls Abraham and Sarah to be still within the holy moment by asking the divine rhetorical question:

In our Gospel, the centurion has his own holy moment. Already committed in faith, he hopes for more from Jesus because of his need. With profound trust and humility, the centurion  invites God’s Word to act completely and spontaneously in his life.

We may not have visible angels visiting our homes today, like Abraham and Sarah did.

We may not find Jesus walking into our local town like the centurion did.

Still, by faith, we trust that the Holy is present in every moment of our lives.

With Abraham and Sarah, may we open the tent of our lives to heavenly intervention.

With Mary, let us ask God to release the miracle of sacred possibility over our lives and over our world.

Your mercy reaches from age to age 
for those in awe of you.
You have shown strength with your arm; 
you have scattered the proud in their conceit; 
you have deposed the mighty from their thrones 
and raised the lowly to high places.
You have filled the hungry with good things, 
while you have sent the rich away empty. 
You have come to the aid of Israel your servant, 
mindful of your mercy―
the promise you made to our ancestors―
to Sarah and Abraham and their decendants forever.

Poem: SARAH’S LAUGHTER (GENESIS 18:1–15) by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

When Abraham had hurried back
to the three Strangers with bread
and meat, milk and curds,
Sarah, obediently hiding her faded
beauty behind the tent flaps,
watched them feasting beneath the oak.

From there the Strangers’ words
came winging to where she stood—
in shocked disbelief at first,
having grown old and used to
the sterile disfavor of Abraham’s God,
then exploding in peals of laughter
that ricocheted off the oaks of Mamre
and the stony hills of promise. 

“How many can you count, Sarah?”
Abraham asked as they held each other
beneath a blanket of stars.
“How many children will there be?”

The words set her off again,
and Abraham too,
with irrepressible mirth
till the hills whooped and hollered
and the stars blazed their Aha
in the pregnant desert night.

Music: Two songs today. One just to laugh! Enjoy the possibilities!🤗

  1. Sarah Laughed – Joe Buchanan
Miracles abound, In front of you and all around 
You and I, she and him, It’s a miracle that life begins 
Every time we think we’re lost for good 
The world keeps turning, just like it should 

And out of the darkness came let there be light 
And it’s a miracle we’re sharing space, here in this life 
The universe is a concert, everything moves in time 
Anything can happen when the moment is right 
And Sarah laughed… 

The day begins the same way each time 
The sun and moon and stars, they all know their lines 
Life has a heartbeat of its own, you know 
The only thing unpredictable… the human soul 

And out of the darkness came let there be light 
And it’s a miracle we’re sharing space, here in this life 
The universe is a concert, everything moves in time 
Anything can happen when the moment is right 
And Sarah laughed… 

And we’re the change in things 
The dreamers and the shapers, we’re the crafters and makers 
All building our lives 
And I try so hard to find G-d’s plan in mine 
But I’m a rocky start… maybe that’s by design 
And then I laugh, And Sarah laughed 

And out of the darkness came let there be light 
And it’s a miracle we’re sharing space, here in this life 
The universe is a concert, everything moves in time 
Everything can happen when the moment is right 
And Sarah laughed… 

2. Abraham and Sarah Had to Laugh – Bryan Sirchio

Abraham and Sarah were very old and gray
And angel of the LORD showed up and said to them one day
We know you’re very old and that you’ve never had a kid
But God says, “better find a baby crib!”
And they said…

Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho!
You can’t have a baby when you get this old
Abraham and Sarah had to laugh
O boy that’s a knee slapper!
Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho!
But now Abraham and Sarah know
That nothing is too hard for God

Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 25, 2021

This reflection on Psalm 128 was published earlier this year, but I thought it deserved another day. I hope you do too. 🙂

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 128 which some describe as a blueprint for a happy home.

Happy are they all who fear the Lord, 
and who follow in the ways of God!
You shall eat the fruit of your labor;
happiness and prosperity shall be yours.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine 
within your house, 
your children like olive shoots 
round about your table.

Psalm 128, Canadian Inclusive Psalter

As lovely as it is, this interpretation may be overly simple. 

Psalm 128, written in the post-exilic period, is the people’s song of gratitude for the chance to return to their homeland after the Babylonian captivity.

For Israel, the captivity was the result of their faithlessness to their covenant with God. The core sentiment of the psalm is awareness, repentance, and conviction to live life more intentionally – to live in fear of the Lord and thus preserve oneself from future calamity:

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
    who walk in the Lord’s ways!

I think that word “fear” is a tough one. It seems to contradict our desired relationship with the God who is Love, the God we have met in the person of Jesus Christ. How do we reconcile the contradiction?

But Proverbs tells us this:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, 
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10

So this “fear” is significantly different from the emotion we might feel when, for example, we hear an unfamiliar noise in our darkened house.

Thus the ‘fear of the Lord’ is a relational term signifying the Israelites’ response to God’s grace displayed in salvation (especially the Exodus). As Walter Brueggemann has aptly written, it means: to take God with utmost seriousness as the premise and perspective from which life is to be discerned and lived. That ‘utmost seriousness’ requires attentiveness to some things rather than others, to spend one’s energies in response to this God who has initiated our life.

Mark J. Boda, Professor of Old Testament, McMaster Divinity College

This, in fact, is the rich sentiment underlying Psalm 128, and that will yield the security of an intimate relationship with God

May the LORD bless you from Zion;
may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity
all the days of your life,
and live to see your children’s children.
Peace upon Israel!

Psalm 128:4-5
May we live to see our lives unfold in grace.

The psalmist’s “fear” might be more akin to awe, reverence, glad obedience to our God who loves us and wills our good. It is a virtue rooted in our search for a holy awe and wisdom as our life unfolds in God’s Grace:

Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, says we live in a technological society that has grossly confused knowledge and wisdom. He says wisdom is the mystery, held by God, about how and why life works…how creation holds together…and how human reason has its limits. Wisdom is God’s secret and even our bold Enlightenment expectations barely lay a finger on that secret. Wisdom involves recognizing limits before the mystery of God. Knowledge has to do with control, says Brueggemann. Wisdom has to do with awe.

Walter M. Klein, Pastor, Lexington Presbyterian Church

Poem: I Am Bending My Knee

Originally from the Carmina Gadelica I, 3. Taken from Esther de Waal, editor, The Celtic Vision (Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph, 1988, 2001), p. 7.

I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who purchased me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In friendship and affection.

Through Thine own Anointed One, O God,
Bestow upon us fullness in our need,
Love towards God,
The affection of God,
The smile of God,
The wisdom of God,
The grace of God,
The fear of God,
And the will of God

To do on the world of the Three,
As angels and saints
Do in heaven;
Each shade and light,
Each day and night,
Each time in kindness,
Give Thou us Thy Spirit.

Music: The Fear of the Lord – First Baptist Dallas (Wow! How about this music ministry!)

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

June 24, 2021

Icon of St. John the Baptist (16th c.) Dionysiou Monastery

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate one of the greatest figures of the Bible, John the Baptist. He prepared the way for the Lord.

Thinking of John’s role in Salvation History, I am reminded of a captivating poem by Geoffrey Brown, author of Road of the Heart Cave:

The Heart Cave

I must remember

To go down to the heart cave
& sweep it clean; make it warm
with a fire on the hearth,
& candles in their niches,
the pictures on the walls
       glowing with a quiet light.
       I must remember

To go down to the heart cave
       & make the bed
with the quilt from home,
the rushes on the floor
lavender and sage
         from the corners.
         I must go down
                                           To the heart cave & be there
                                           when You come.

John the Baptist went down to the heart cave of our human perception of God.  He understood, in an inexpressible way, that God was about to do something astounding in human history.  God was about to become part of it!

John understood this with unquestioning faith, the way we understand heaven but cannot rationalize it. Understanding it, he knew that the world needed to turn itself toward God – to repent – in radical and ardent expectation.

This was his call and his message – this extraordinary man, dressed in his camel hair vestments, preaching at the desert’s edge.

We might pray with John today to be turned from anything that distracts us from God, to long for God’s presence in our hearts and in our world, to love deeply and make a welcome home for Christ within us.

( On this Feast, 55 years ago, my entrance companions and I professed our vows. I think of all of them with love today. May I humbly ask you, dear readers, to join me in prayer for us as we thank God for the gift of our lives in Mercy.)

Music: “Utqueant laxis” or “Hymnus in Ioannem” is a Latin hymn in honor of John the Baptist written in Horatian Sapphics and traditionally attributed to Paulus Diaconus, the eighth-century Lombard historian. It is famous for its part in the history of musical notation, in particular solmization (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do). The hymn is sung to a Gregorian chant, and introduces the original do-re-mi music

1. O for your spirit, holy John, to chasten
Lips sin-polluted, fettered tongues to loosen;
So by your children might your deeds of wonder
Meetly be chanted.

2. Lo! a swift herald, from the skies descending,
Bears to your father promise of your greatness;
How he shall name you, what your future story,
Duly revealing.

3. Scarcely believing message so transcendent,
Him for a season power of speech forsaketh,
Till, at your wondrous birth, again returneth,
Voice to the voiceless.

4. You, in your mother’s womb all darkly cradled,
Knew your great Monarch, biding in His chamber,
Whence the two parents, through their offspring’s merits,
Mysteries uttered.

5. Praise to the Father, to the Son begotten,
And to the Spirit, equal power possessing,
One God whose glory, through the lapse of ages,
Ever resounding. Amen.

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105, a sacred invitation to rest confidently in God.

Glory in God’s holy name;
    rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD’s strength;
    seek to serve God wholeheartedly.

Psalm 105:3-4

Our trust is based on God’s infinite memory, mindful of us with every breath of our lives. We are asked to remember too.

The Lord remembers the covenant for ever.

Psalm 105:8

Jesus reminds us of this covenant in our Alleluia verse from John’s Gospel:

Let’s just be cradled in these holy promises as we pray today.

Poetry: Trust by Thomas R. Smith

It’s like so many other things in life   
to which you must say no or yes.                                    
So you take your car to the new mechanic.   
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.   
The package left with the disreputable-looking   
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,   
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—   
all show up at their intended destinations.   
The theft that could have happened doesn’t.   
Wind finally gets where it was going   
through the snowy trees, and the river, even               
when frozen, arrives at the right place.                        
And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life   
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

Music: two songs today. I liked them both a lot and didn’t want to deprive you of either.

Rest in God – Brian Doerksen

Rest – Steve Green

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 15 which begins by asking a crystal clear question:

LORD, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy mountain?

Psalm 15:1

In other words, “What is it you’re looking for in me that I may be your friend, living under your protection?”.

In our first reading, Abraham is in the process of deciphering the answer to this question by responding wholeheartedly to God’s invitation and promise.

One of Abraham’s first actions when becoming God’s friend is an act of justice toward  his nephew Lot. Both their holdings had grown very large and their families began competing for resources. So Abraham gave Lot a choice to have his own land so both could live in security and peace.

Justice is the core of today’s readings, and it’s the ticket to God’s tent. I think it is a virtue which confuses many of us. We get it mixed up with concepts of law, vengeance, preferential judgements. But here’s the definition from the Catholic Catechism and I like it. It sounds academic, but it’s exactly what Abraham did for Lot in our first reading – he acted for “right relationship” which is the heart of justice. All in all, justice is just another face of Mercy.

Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor. Justice toward God is called the “virtue of religion.” Justice toward persons disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Thomas Aquinas must have thought people were confused about justice too. He defined and explained it exhaustively in the Summa Theologiae

Psalm 15, though, makes it simpler for us. Here’s Christine Robinson’s transliteration:

How do truly good people live?
They speak the truth from their hearts
  have no hidden agendas, are
  loyal friends. 
They offer respect to their neighbors, but
  avoid the company of the selfish and the foolish,
They honor good people wherever they find them.
They live to do good, keep their word
   make their living with honest work
   and give generously from their abundance.
Their way of life makes them strong in heart.

I like people like that, and I want to be one of them – for God’s sake, other people’s, and my own. Praying with Psalm 15 can help us do that.

Poetry: Making Peace – Denise Levertov

A voice from the dark called out,
             ‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace, to oust the intense, familiar
imagination of disaster. Peace, not only
the absence of war.’
                                   But peace, like a poem,
is not there ahead of itself,
can’t be imagined before it is made,
can’t be known except
in the words of its making,
grammar of justice,
syntax of mutual aid.
                                       A feeling towards it,
dimly sensing a rhythm, is all we have
until we begin to utter its metaphors,
learning them as we speak.
                                              A line of peace might appear
if we restructured the sentence our lives are making,
revoked its reaffirmation of profit and power,
questioned our needs, allowed
long pauses . . .
                        A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.

Music: Conserva Me, Domine (Psalm 15) – Marc Antoine Charpentier