Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
October 22, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, the longest and very familiar psalm which pleads for God to mercifully teach us:
In our readings, Paul asserts that without God’s Grace we can never attain these gifts. Jesus calls us to use these gifts and to practice a holy life by recognizing and responding justly to the challenges of our times.
Paul sounds a lot like someone approaching the microphone at “Sinners Anonymous”:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.Romans 7:18-20
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Paul basically attests to the fact that for human beings, even him, will and actions often don’t synch up. Sure, we want to be good people, but as Nike says, do we …
Paul’s says no. The only way we do the good we will to do is by the grace of Jesus Christ.
In our Gospel, Jesus affirms the slowness of the human spirit to act on the realities around us. In some translations, Jesus uses a phrase which caught on with the architects of Vatican II: the signs of the times.
Jesus tells his listeners and us that we need to be alert to the circumstances of our world. It both weeps and rejoices. Where it weeps, we must be a source of mercy and healing. Where it rejoices, we must foster and celebrate the Presence of the Spirit.
In the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), we read:
In every age, the church carries the responsibility
of reading the signs of the times
and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task.
In language intelligible to every generation, it should be able to answer
the ever recurring questions which people ask
about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come,
and how one is related to the other.
We must be aware of and understand the aspirations, the yearnings,
and the often dramatic features of the world in which we live.
Although written in the 1960s, these powerful words hold true today. We are the Church of which the document speaks. We are the ones whom Jesus calls to respond with authentic justice and mercy to the signs of the times.
Read the newspaper in that light today. Watch the news in that light. Meet your brothers and sisters in that light today.
Poetry: Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Perhaps more than anything else, Shelley wanted his message of reform and revolution spread, and the wind becomes the symbol for spreading the word of change through the poet-prophet figure. Some also believe that the poem was written in response to the loss of his son William in 1819 (born to Mary Shelley – author of “Frankenstein”). The ensuing pain influenced Shelley. The poem allegorizes the role of the poet as the voice of change and revolution. (Wikipedia)
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!
Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion,
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear!
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lull’d by the coil of his crystalline streams,
Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day,
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be
The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seem’d a vision; I would ne’er have striven
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Music: The Times They Are A’changin’ – Bob Dylan
Dylan’s songs in the 50s and 60s became anthems for the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied popular music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture. (Wikipedia)
Ah, it was a good time to be young! (me)
The Swedish Academy awarded Dylan the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”