Matthew: Called By Name

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Matthew, the Apostle
by Anthony Van Dyke

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, we are blessed with a deeply  inspiring reading from Ephesians. 

… live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace…

Ephesians 4: 1-3

We are reminded that each of us is called in God according to our particular gifts. Paul encourages us to live “in a manner worthy of the call we have received” in our Baptism.

… grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

… some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ.

Ephesians 4: 7, 11-12

For most of us, it has been quite a while since we were washed in the waters of our Baptism. A lot of other waters have passed under the bridge since then. We may, or may not, have recognized and responded to our call, continually carried to us on those life waters.

Each moment, each choice, each act and decision asks us once again to choose Christ – over sin, over self, over meaninglessness. Each life opportunity calls us closer to Jesus, to the pattern of his Cross, to the witness of his Resurrection.


Matthew heard such a call as he sat, perhaps dulled by the unconscious disengagement of his life, by the failure to live with intention and openness to grace. As He passed by Matthew, Jesus reached into that ennui, calling Matthew to evangelize all the future generations by his Gospel.

Jesus calls us to be evangelists too – every moment, every day. Our “Yes” to our particular call writes its own Gospel, telling the Good News through our faith, hope and love.

Pope Francis says this:

Poetry: Isaiah 43:1-2 (Isaiah is actually my favorite poet!)

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Music: When You Call My Name ~ Brian Doerksen & Steve Mitchinson

Return Rejoicing!

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs
September 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 126

This six-verse psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and other Protestant liturgies. It is well known in Judaism as the preliminary psalm recited before the Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and as such is sung to a wide variety of melodies.

Wikipedia
Shir hama'alot (Psalm 126) - cantor Yossele Rosenblatt

Psalm 126 can be described as:

 “joy remembered and joy anticipated”

James Luther Mays

The psalm is divided into two parts. 

Joys remembered: The first three verses gratefully reflect on the joy and freedom felt upon return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.

Joys anticipated: The second three verses attest to the difficulties subsequent to that return. They voice a plea for restoration of joy.


This is a prayer most of us can relate to. Can you remember a time when you were so delighted to obtain a certain item, or status, or goal that you felt it was “almost like a dream” situation? 

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
    we were like those dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with rejoicing.

Psalm 126:1

But perhaps, once that reality was obtained, it wasn’t so easy to manage, or complete, or enjoy! Perhaps there were “dry spells” like the torrent-less desert of 126:

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
    like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
    shall reap rejoicing.

Psalm 126: 4-5

For example, I’ve heard a few young couples express delight upon buying their first home – a “fixer upper”. But often, the “fixing up” requires a lot more resources than expected!

Such was the situation for the Israelites who joyfully returned to Jerusalem — only to find a city in ruins, bereft of their beloved Temple, with devastated fields and vineyards.


Still, Psalm 126 is a testament to hope and resilience. It is an affirmation that we can go forward by faith, hope, trust, patience, and by drawing on the power of remembered mercies.

Although they go forth weeping,
    carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
    carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126:6

Poem: Blessing to Summon Rejoicing – Jan Richardson

When your weeping
has watered
the earth.
When the storm
has been long
and the night
and the season
of your sorrowing.
When you have seemed
an exile
from your life,
lost in the far country,
a long way from where
your comfort lies.
When the sound
of splintering
and fracture
haunts you.
When despair
attends you.
When lack.
When trouble.
When fear.
When pain.
When empty.
When lonely.
When too much
of what depletes you
and not enough
of what restores
and rests you.
Then let there be
rejoicing.
Then let there be
dreaming.
Let there be
laughter in your mouth
and on your tongue
shouts of joy.
Let the seeds
soaked by tears
turn to grain,
to bread,
to feasting.
Let there be
coming home.

— from Circle of Grace

Music: In the Place of Dreams – Tim Janis

Change the World for Beauty

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 19, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Sunday readings each address, in some way, the motivations and judgments of the heart.


Most of us are good people, or at least we want to be. But life can still get us mixed up in situations and decisions which test our character and challenge our moral fortitude. A few characters from today’s readings seem beset with such dilemmas.


The voice within the Wisdom passage belongs to a hard-hearted and jealous person who finds the just person obnoxious. The speaker can’t stand being shown up by the good person’s character. It challenges the complainer’s comfortable, self-absorbed existence.


In our epistle, James gives us the powerful admonitions, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.” He tells us that our hearts should be filled instead with the wisdom from above, yielding peace, gentleness and Mercy.


When I watch the news, or observe the day’s political dramas, I long for the honest, sincere and decent world James describes. I long for a world where we respect and honor each other beyond politics, gender, color, nation, religion, and sexual orientation – for a world where we make choices FOR one another, not against.

How can we help realize a world like that by the choices we make in our personal lives? How can we minimize the jealousy and hatred that are born of self-interest and prejudice?


In the Gospel, Jesus tells us the way. His disciples are busy trying to figure out which of them is the greatest, missing -as they so often do- the whole point of discipleship. 

Jesus is gentle with them. He tells them to look at a little child. There they will find what is most important – in simplicity, vulnerability, openness, innocence. They will see that this is the way Jesus is with them.

If we can approach and receive one another with just an ounce of such selflessness, we might begin to change the world – to do our part to make it even more beautiful.


Poetry:The Beautiful World by W. Lomax Childress (1867-1936)

Here's a song of praise for a beautiful world,
For the banner of blue that's above it unfurled,
For the streams that sparkle and sing to the sea,
For the bloom in the glade and the leaf on the tree;
Here's a song of praise for a beautiful world.

Here's a song of praise for the mountain peak,
Where the wind and the lightning meet and speak,
For the golden star on the soft night's breast,
And the silvery moonlight's path to rest;
Here's a song of praise for a beautiful world.

Here's a song of praise for the rippling notes
That come from a thousand sweet bird throats,
For the ocean wave and the sunset glow,
And the waving fields where the reapers go;
Here's a song of praise for a beautiful world.

Here's a song of praise for the ones so true,
And the kindly deeds they have done for you;
For the great earth's heart, when it's understood,
Is struggling still toward the pure and good;
Here's a song of praise for a beautiful world.

Here's a song of praise for the One who guides,
For He holds the ships and He holds the tides,
And underneath and around and above.
The world is lapped in the light of His love;
Here's a song of praise for a beautiful world.

Music: Two pieces today

  1. Ubi Caritas ~ Taizé Community

Ubi caritas et amor, ubi caritas, Deus ibi est.
Where there is charity and love, God abides.

2. What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

Jubilate Deo!

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

September 18, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 100, called the “Jubilate Deo” because of its opening pronouncement:

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you peoples;
serve the Lord with gladness;
come before the Lord with joyful song.

Psalm 100: 1-2

This is such a perfect prayer today for our Mercy community as we will gather to celebrate the Jubilee of many of our sisters this afternoon. It will be a huge celebration in which the Jubilarians of both 2020 and 2021 will be honored, due to last year’s Covid restrictions.

For many of us, the most moving parts of the celebration are the procession and recession. These celebratory passages are a testament to God’s faithfulness over many lifetimes, and to the women who have received and responded to God’s gifts.

Some sisters, who have been given the gift of long years, will process with a cane or walker to assist them. Some will move with an achieved maturity, and some still with the vigor of youth.

But our Mercy family, gathered in the pews, walks in Spirit with each of the Jubilarians, carrying her within a bond of mutual love. As we see each sister whom we have lived with, worked with, loved and learned from, our hearts indeed sing with them, “Jubilate!”


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 leaven to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.
Oh, 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.
Some of 2021’s Sapphire/Diamond Jubilarians when they were true Neophytes

Please join us in your grateful prayers for these Sisters of Mercy:

Jubilarians 2020
80 years
Sister Rita Powell

70 years
Sister Mary Georgina Hasson 
Sister Mary Hentz
Sister Kathleen Kelly
Sister Marie Lynch
Sister Antoinette Medori 
Sister Clare Miriam Schrant 
Sister Marianna Walsh

60 Years
Sister Rosellen Bracken
Sister Mary Elizabeth Burke 
Sister Emily Therese Connor 
Sister Marie Michele Donnelly 
Sister Patricia Anne Flynn
Sister Kathleen Marie Fox
Sister Mary Ann Giordano
Sister Patricia Anne Kennedy 
Sister Barbara Ann MacWilliams 
Sister Kathleen McAlpin
Sister Mercedes Joan McCann 
Sister Kathleen McGovern 
Sister Josephine McGrory
Sister Mary Sarah McNally 
Sister Mary Anne Nolan
Sister Stella Mary O’Brien
Sister Frances Paglione
Sister Rose Carmel Scalone 
Sister Barbara Smiley
Sister Patricia Talone
Sister Angela Welsh

50 years
Sister Mary Beth Geraghty 
Sister Mary Jane Morrison 
Sister Katherine Bednarcik

Jubilarians 2021
75 years
Sister Mary Ann Basile 
Sister Marie Helene Bradley 
Sister Mary Janet Doughty 
Sister Kathleen Mary Long 
Sister Marita Lyons
Sister Catherine Rawley 
Sister Ethel Sweeney

70 years
Sister Therese Marie Kenny 
Sister Alice Mary Meehan 
Sister Rose Morris
Sister Kathleen Waugh 
Sister Anne Marie Berenato 
Sister Mary Anton Frick

60 years
Sister Francis Haddow 
Sister Anna Marie Lesutis 
Sister Margery Lowry
Sister Mary Mester
Sister Sheila Murphy
Sister Anne Marie Weisglass 
Sister Joanne Whitaker 
Sister Beverly Wilde

50 years
Sister Maureen Conklin 
Sister Susan Myslinski

25 Years
Sister Guia Jimenez


Music: Utrecht Jubilate – Handel

Antidote to Fear

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

September 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 49, the point of which according to Walter Brueggemann is this:

The point is that death is the great equalizer,
and those who are genuinely wise
should not be impressed by or committed to
that which the world over-values.

From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

We may have heard the sentiment stated more succinctly by an anonymous scholar:

You can’t take it with you.


This is the core message Paul imparts to Timothy in our first reading:

For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

1 Timothy 6:10

The advice is about more than money, or “dollar-bucks” as my 5 year old grandnephew calls them.


The instruction is about our priorities –
whom, why and what
we love, value, and sacrifice for.

The opposite of this “love of money” is an unselfish, sacrificial love for others. This is the love Jesus hopes for in his disciples as he blesses them in today’s Gospel.

It takes courage to live such discipleship. As human beings, we tend to fear any kind of deprivation. We crave security, and sometimes we think money and possessions can give us that. Our readings today redirect that all too common misperception.

The world can be a very dark place, and of course, we will have fears and worries. Paul and our psalmist direct us to the right place to calm these concerns. Jesus calls us to believe in and live in the Light which is our true security.

Our psalm reminds us to keep our eyes on the eternal promise we have all been given.

But God will redeem my life,
will take me from the hand of Darkness.

Psalm 49: 16

Poetry: Accepting This – Mark Nepo

Yes, it is true. I confess,
I have thought great thoughts,
and sung great songs—all of it
rehearsal for the majesty
of being held.
The dream is awakened
when thinking I love you
and life begins
when saying I love you
and joy moves like blood
when embracing others with love.
My efforts now turn
from trying to outrun suffering
to accepting love wherever
I can find it.
Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.
We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
of compassion.
Ultimately,
we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.
Like human fish,
we are asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart.
There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
Accepting this,
we can do everything
and go anywhere.

Music: His Eye is on the Sparrow (You might recall this version from the movie “Sister Act II”)

For fun, you might enjoy hearing how the 60s group, The O’Jays, interpreted Paul’s advice to Timothy.

Money money money money, money [Repeat: x 6]

Some people got to have it

Some people really need it

Listen to me why’all, do things, do things, do bad things with it

You want to do things, do things, do things, good things with it

Talk about cash money, money

Talk about cash money- dollar bills, why’all

For the love of money

People will steal from their mother

For the love of money

People will rob their own brother

For the love of money

People can’t even walk the street

Because they never know who in the world they’re gonna beat

For that lean, mean, mean green

Almighty dollar, money

For the love of money

People will lie, Lord, they will cheat

For the love of money

People don’t care who they hurt or beat

For the love of money

A woman will sell her precious body

For a small piece of paper it carries a lot of weight

Call it lean, mean, mean green

Almighty dollar

I know money is the root of all evil

Do funny things to some people

Give me a nickel, brother can you spare a dime

Money can drive some people out of their minds

Got to have it, I really need it

How many things have I heard you say

Some people really need it

How many things have I heard you say

Got to have it, I really need it

How many things have I heard you say

Lay down, lay down, a woman will lay down

For the love of money

All for the love of money

Don’t let, don’t let, don’t let money rule you

For the love of money

Money can change people sometimes

Don’t let, don’t let, don’t let money fool you

Money can fool people sometimes

People! Don’t let money, don’t let money change you,

It will keep on changing, changing up your mind.

Memorial of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111. Prayed in tandem with our first reading from 1 Timothy, the psalm directs our hearts to an awareness of the gifts we have received in faith.

We are all “gifted” by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes if someone tells us that we’re “gifted”, they are really referring to special talents we may have developed – like art, music, dance, writing etc.

But the gifts our readings highlight are those which are rooted in the Holy Spirit, and we receive them through our Baptism and Confirmation.


Paul tells Timothy not to neglect these gifts. And the psalmist suggests that the first step in such care is the practice of awe, wisdom and prudence.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
    prudent are all who live by it.
    His praise endures forever.

Psalm 111:10

We can’t just practice these gifts for an hour or two as we might practice piano!


The Holy Spirit’s gifts must be nurtured and tended daily, through all seasons of our lives,
allowing their roots to deepen and grow in us.
This was the advice that Paul gave Timothy.
We could all use it as well.


The prophet Isaiah was the first to list the Gifts of the Holy Spirit when he described the coming Messiah:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

Isaiah 11:1-3

We are baptized in the image of Christ. These same gifts flow, in a waterfall of grace, into our spirits. May we receive and respond!

Poetry: God’s Grandeur – Gerard Manel Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111, a rather exultant prayer for such a somber feast.

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
    in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
    exquisite in all their delights.

Psalm 111:1-2

The psalm allows us to see beyond the sorrows we commemorate today. At the same time, the memorial reminds us that these sorrows of Mary were real human sufferings endured for Love.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

from The Stabat Mater

The scriptures give us precious little of Mary’s life. But each small account demonstrates the same thing: Mary responded, she showed up, she acted, she stood by Jesus until the end.

As Christ continues the work of redemption in our times, where do we stand?


Poetry: Today’s poetic passage is from one of the great classics of Christian literature, A Woman Wrapped in Silence by Father John W. Lynch.

The book is a masterpiece best appreciated in reflective contemplation. I have chosen a sliver of its beauty today, one of many that captures Mary’s joy born of faith-filled suffering. This selection imagines what it was like when Mary remained in the Upper Room as the others, not knowing what to expect, went to the tomb early on Easter morning. The Resurrected Jesus comes to Mary first, before any other appearance.

Or is 
it true or thought of her she found no need
To search? And better said that she had known
Within, they’d not discover him again
Among the dead? That he would not be there
Entombed, and she had known, and only watched
Them now as they were whispering of him,

And let them go, and listened afterward
To footsteps that were fading in the dark.

To wait him here. Alone. Alone. A woman
Lonely in the silence and the trust
Of silence in her heart that did not seek,
Or cry, or search, but only waited him.

We have no word of this sweet certainty
That hides in her. There is not granted line
Writ meager in the scripture that will tell
By even some poor, unavailing tag
Of language what she keeps within the silence.
This is hers. We are not told of this,
This quaking instant, this return, this Light
Beyond the tryst of dawn when she first lifted
Up her eyes, and quiet, unamazed,
Saw He was near.

Music: Much magnificent music is available for the Stabat Mater, a 13th century poem written by Franciscans and interpreted by many musical masters.

  1. Stabat Mater – Antonio Vivaldi
    A short piece – Section 5: Eja Mater, fons amoris performed by Tim Mead

Eja, Mater, fons amóris
me sentíre vim dolóris
fac, ut tecum lúgeam

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.


2. The complete work by Vivaldi is below for those who would like to hear it:


3. A little bit of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater here with the same fabulous Tim Mead and Lucy Crow

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 78 which commands us:

Do not forget the works of the Lord!


The psalm, in its entirety, is a recital of God’s faithfulness to Israel over time, culminating in the triumph of David/Jerusalem/Temple.

God chose David his servant,
took him from the sheepfolds.
From tending ewes God brought him,
to shepherd Jacob, the people,
Israel, God’s heritage.
He shepherded them with a pure heart;
with skilled hands he guided them.

Psalm 78: 70-73

David foreshadows Jesus, the Good Shepherd who not only tends the sheep but becomes the Lamb of God. Jesus completes our salvation by his death on the Cross. In him, the long journey of Psalm 78 is ultimately fulfilled.


Philippians’ exquisite hymn captures the profound nature of that fulfillment:

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
    Rather, he emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    coming in human likeness;
    and found human in appearance,
    he humbled himself,
    becoming obedient to death,
    even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

Each of our lives reflects, in its own way, the salvation journey we find in scripture. We experience the same kind of twists and turns, highs and lows as those described in Psalm 78.

In each of these moments, we are held in the mystery of the Cross wherein Christ transforms all suffering to grace:

Because of this, God greatly exalted him
    and bestowed on him the name
    that is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue confess that
    Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2: 9-11

Poetry: Good Friday – Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Am I a stone and not a sheep 
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross, 
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss, 
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved 
Who with exceeding grief lamented thee; 
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly; 
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the sun and moon 
Which hid their faces in a starless sky, 
A horror of great darkness at broad noon— 
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er, 
But seek thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; 
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more 
And smite a rock.

Music: Adoramus Te, Christe

Memorial Of St. John Chrysostom

Monday, September 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 28, a prayer of nine succinct verses in which the psalmist rides a seesaw emotion.

My prayer is like that sometimes. I try to pray the way Jesus would pray — the “Our Father” type of goodness and all.

But to be honest, “Thy Will be done” and “as we forgive those who trespass” are not always easy sentiments for me. How about you?


Our psalmist seems to have some trouble too … but with points of light and redemption in the end:

O Lord, I call to you;
my rock, do not be deaf to my cry;
lest, if you do not hear me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
FEAR
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, 
when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.
PLEADING
Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the evildoers,
who speak peaceably with their neighbours,
while strife is in their hearts.
JUDGEMENT
Repay them according to their deeds,
and according to the wickedness of their actions.
According to the work of their hands repay them,
and give them their just deserts.
VENGEANCE
They have no understanding of your doings,
nor of the works of your hands;
therefore you will break them down
and not build them up.
PRIDE
Blessed are you, O Lord!
For you have heard the voice of my prayer.
FAITH
O Lord, you are my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in you, and I have been helped;
therefore my heart dances for joy,
and in my song will I praise you.
TRUST
You are the strength of your people,
a safe refuge for your anointed.
SECURITY
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
shepherd them and carry them for ever.
PRAYER

What I learn from this psalm is to tell God the truth when I pray – but the real truth -the truth that we hear back from God when we listen in our prayer. And that listening should always be done in sync with the Gospel. It is as if we cup the Gospel around our prayer the way we bend an ear to the faint but longed-for sound.


Poetry: Lost – David Whyte

Stand still. 
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you 
Are not lost. 
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. 
Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying 
Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.”

Music: The Golden Forest – Tim Janis

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Sunday readings increase in dramatic tone.  The passage from Isaiah describes a Savior bent on his mission despite mounting resistance and expressed hatred.

The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
    have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
    my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
    from buffets and spitting.

Isaiah 50:5-6

Psalm 116 paints a person set upon by suffering and death threats, still trusting in the Lord’s saving grace.

The cords of death encompassed me;
    the snares of the netherworld seized upon me;
    I fell into distress and sorrow,
And I called upon the name of the LORD,
    “O LORD, save my life!”

Psalm 116: 3-4

In the Epistle, James says we must demonstrate our faith by our works — by putting our money where our mouth is.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works? 

James 2:14

And in our Gospel, Jesus says we demonstrate our faith by following him, renouncing ourselves and taking up our cross.

This is heavy stuff. Jesus wants us to be like him — and it would be so much easier not to be!  It would be so much easier to think that our life is all about ourselves, and that we have no responsibility for Beloved Creation.

It would be so much easier not to give our lives to Christ to allow Him to bless the world through our love.

But if we wish to “save” our lives like this, we will — in the end — lose them for eternity.

Let us pray today for the grace to take our life and lay it down over the Cross of Christ.

In that laying down, to conform ourselves to the pattern of his love, to place the weight of our burdens and hopes on the crossbeam of his strength.

Let us ask for the strength to live 

  • for God
  • for others
  • for good in the world
  • and never for self when it injures or lessens others or our Sacred Home.

This is the way we will keep our lives in Christ.

Music: Renouncement – Michael Hoppé