Alleluia: Come to Me

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 1, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings revolve around a theme of taxes, measures, weights, scales – those instruments that may be misused to unduly burden others.

We will diminish the containers for measuring,
add to the weights,
and fix our scales for cheating!

Amos 8:5

Our Gospel illustrates the mental instruments we use to measure, and sometimes condemn others – judgement, prejudice, stereotyping.

The Pharisees said to Jesus’s disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Matthew 9:11

There are all kinds of ways we can lay heavy burdens on ourselves and others. Our Alleluia Verse invites us to freedom from such burdens:

Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.

Does this mean that God will remove such burdens from our lives? No. We know better than that don’t we. 🙂

Trusting our lives to God does not change our burdens. It changes us. 

That change – that unburdening grace – allows us spiritual freedom even in the midst of challenges and trials.

Our hope, confidence, freedom and peace rests in God. Nothing can shake that foundation.

Poetry: Edwina Gateley – Let Your God Love You

Be silent.
Be still.
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.

Let your God—
Love you.

Music: Come to Me – Gregory Norbet


Come to me, all who labor and are heavy burdened
And I shall give you rest
Take up my yoke and learn from me
For I am meek and humble of heart
And you'll find rest for your souls
Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

You, God, are my shepherd, I shall never be in need
Fresh and green are the meadows where you give me rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy burdened
And I shall give you rest
Take up my yoke and learn from me
For I am meek and humble of heart
And you'll find rest for your souls
Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light

Pursue me, o God, with your fathomless love
In your tent let me dwell all the days of my life

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy burdened
And I shall give you rest
Take up my yoke and learn from me
For I am meek and humble of heart
And you'll find rest for your souls
Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden is light

Alleluia: Grafted to God

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
June 30, 2022

Today’s readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we move from Amos’s angry God to the gentle Jesus of our Gospel who gently lifts a broken man out of both his paralysis and sin.

These readings offer quite a leap as we try to image our invisible God! And, once again, our Alleluia Verse is the bridge that helps us do so.

The verse assures us that, in all circumstances, God in restoring us to a share in Divine Life.

Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:19

The image that comes to my mind is that of an expert gardener grafting a broken shoot on to a vibrant tree.

That “grafting” occurs within the context of our life stories. In Amos’s time, it was a story fraught with political struggles crippling the community’s moral life. The crowd gathered around Jesus are challenged by the crippling effects of their lack of faith. His cure of the paralytic demonstrates how God wishes to restore their spiritual freedom.

God continues to reconcile the world in Christ
even in our own time.
How am I a recipient
and how am I an agent
of that merciful, conciliatory grace? 

Praying with the elements of Responsorial Psalm 19 today suggests a guide for us. When our lives are reconciled with God, we should experience these gifts:

  • truth
  • justice
  • wholeness
  • refreshment
  • trustworthiness
  • wisdom
  • simplicity
  • right balance
  • joy
  • clarity
  • enlightenment
  • purity
  • steadfastness
  • and spiritual sweetness

Poetry: from Rumi

Find the sweetness 
in your own heart, 
then you may find the sweetness 
in every heart.

Music: Sweet Will of God – by Lelia Naylor Morris (1862 – 1929) an American Methodist hymn writer. In the 1890s, she began to write hymns and gospel songs; it has been said that she wrote more than 1,000 songs and tunes, and that she did so while doing her housework. In 1913, her eyesight began to fail; her son thereupon constructed for her a blackboard 28 feet (8.5 m) long with oversized staff lines, so that she could continue to compose.

In 1900, she published Sweet Will of God, about  the true “sweetness” of a deep spiritual life.

Two versions today. The first is the entire hymn sung by Amy Grant. The second is just the interlude so beautifully sung by Junior W. Smith that I had to share it. (Lyrics below)

Amy Grant

Junior W. Smith

My stubborn will at last hath yielded;
I would be Thine, and Thine alone;
And this the prayer my lips are bringing,
“Lord, let in me Thy will be done.”

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer;
Till I am wholly lost in Thee;
Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul, a prisoned bird, set free.

Shut in with Thee, O Lord, forever,
My wayward feet no more to roam;
What power from Thee my soul can sever?
The centre of God’s will my home.

Alleluia: Saints for the Ages

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the great Apostles Peter and Paul. The stories of these men embody all the hills and valleys of a Christian life, albeit to majestic scale: call, conversion of heart, ministry, miracles, sacrifice, suffering, failure and glory.

Every human being passes through these hills and valleys. Why do some emerge as saints for the ages and others not? 

Today’s readings would suggest this answer: they believed, and submitted their hearts to God’s unimaginable grace and power. Through that faith, they ultimately were led to the heights of holiness and carried the rest of us believers with them.

Paul says, 

“The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation of the Word
might be completed.”

When Jesus asks Peter what he believes, Peter says,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Ordinary men responding with a clear and extraordinary faith. May their lives and legacies bless and teach us.

Poetry: Two wonderful sonnets from Malcolm Guite

If you love Malcolm Guite’s poetry as much as I do, you might enjoy his blog found at this link:

Peter Denies Christ – Rembrandt

St. Peter

Impulsive master of misunderstanding
You comfort me with all your big mistakes;
Jumping the ship before you make the landing,
Placing the bet before you know the stakes.
I love the way you step out without knowing,
The way you sometimes speak before you think,
The way your broken faith is always growing,
The way he holds you even when you sink.
Born to a world that always tried to shame you,
Your shaky ego vulnerable to shame,
I love the way that Jesus chose to name you,
Before you knew how to deserve that name.
And in the end your Saviour let you prove
That each denial is undone by love.


Caravaggio’s Conversion of Saul
An enemy whom God has made a friend,
A righteous man discounting righteousness,
Last to believe and first for God to send,
He found the fountain in the wilderness.
Thrown to the ground and raised at the same moment,
A prisoner who set his captors free,
A naked man with love his only garment,
A blinded man who helped the world to see,
A Jew who had been perfect in the law,
Blesses the flesh of every other race
And helps them see what the apostles saw;
The glory of the lord in Jesus’ face.
Strong in his weakness, joyful in his pains,
And bound by love, he freed us from our chains.

Music: Nunc scio vere (Now I am sure…) – Introit from today’s liturgy

Alleluia: Trust!

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
June 28, 2022

Today’s Readings

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse, like so many of the Psalms, encourages us to TRUST.

“24” was an action-packed show popular a couple of decades ago. In that TV series, the protagonist was played by a tough Kiefer Sutherland. Iconic to each episode was his repeated assurance to his allies, “Trust me”. Doing so would supposedly get them out of every possible kind of fix!

Trusting him usually brought a few hairy escapes, gunfights and explosions. And I guess it can feel like that sometimes when we think we trust God.  But it shouldn’t.

Real and full trust in God yields deep peace
which then impels us to act for justice and mercy.

Alleluia, alleluia.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in God’s word.

Our readings this week from the prophet Amos portray a morally confused community who are tumbling toward God’s wrath. The prophet uses stunning imagery to declare his warning and to call the people to a repentance which acts for justice toward the poor and suffering.

The prophet speaks in imagery. The point is not a literal one. The point, rather, is to recognize that the cost of a disordered public life is inescapably very great. The cost cannot be denied or understated.

Walter Brueggemann

We too as a global community, and as individuals, are called to live lives ordered on God’s Law – lives patterned on justice, mercy, and love for all people.

How do you think we’re doing with that? I think Amos would have preaching tirade if he lived in our day!

But as our Alleluia Verse and our Gospel indicate, a first step toward redemption is TRUST. God is with us. Jesus is “in our boat”. These passages encourage us to get to know, understand, and trust God’s Presence through growing familiarity with the Word.

Once our spirits rest in this kind of assurance, we will have the freedom and courage not only to face ourselves, but to act for true justice, mercy, and love for every person.

Poetry: Poem 8 – Hadewijch of Antwerp, a 13th century mystic and poet.

Born is the new season as the old one that lasted so long is drawing to a close.
Those prepared to do love’s service will receive her rewards: new comfort and new strength.
If they love her with the vigor of love, they will soon be one with love in love.
To be one with love is an awesome calling and those who long for it should spare no effort.
Beyond all reason they will give their all and go through all.
For love dwells so deep in the womb of the Father that her power will unfold only to those who serve her with utter devotion.
First the lover must learn charity and keep God’s law.
Then he shall be blessed a hundredfold, and he shall do great things without great effort, and bear all pain without suffering.
And so his life will surpass human reason indeed.
Those who long to be one with love achieve great things, and shirk no effort.
They shall be strong and capable of any task that will win them the love of love, to help the sick or the healthy, the blind, the crippled or the wounded.
For this is what the lover owes to love.
He shall help the strangers and give to the poor and soothe the suffering whenever he can.
He shall pay loyal service to God’s friends, to saints and men, with a strength that is not human, by night and by day.
And when his strength seems to falter he will still place his trust in love.
Those who trust in love with all their being shall be given all they need.
For she brings comfort to the sad and guidance to those who cannot read.
Love will be pleased with the lover if he accepts no other comfort and trusts in her alone.
Those who desire to live in love alone with all their might and heart shall so dispose all things that they shall soon possess her all.

Music: Sleep in the Storm – by Unspoken Music

(Captures the essence of today’s Gospel where Jesus sleeps in a gusty storm – TRUST!)

Alleluia: God Loves to Talk with Us

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
June 27, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings dispense a serious dose of fire and brimstone! 

Beware, I will crush you into the ground
as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves.

Amos 2:13

Consider this, you who forget God,
lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you.

Psalm 50:22

Some of the prophets, and some preachers even now, have considered “F&B” an effective strategy to reach the hardened sinner. Even our sweet, gentle Jesus comes through tough in today’s Gospel:

Another of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But Jesus answered him, “Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead.”

Matthew 8:22

I’ve never been a fan of the hellfire approach to evangelization. I think it tends to raise a wall of fear around our hearts rather than invite a deep conversion.

Our Alleluia Verse helps me to cut through the sulfurous verbiage to the point that might actually change me: God wants to speak to me. Don’t be hard-hearted to God’s message.

Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

That’s it. That’s the message. Today it’s wrapped in some blazing language but the core is the same.

A loving God wants to speak to me
in every moment of my life.

Poetry: excerpt from Dante’s Inferno

This passage from the epic poem focuses on the sin of indifference, not caring enough to be either bad or good. It made me think of a powerful verse from the Book of Revelation:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3: 15-16

And I — my head oppressed by horror — said:

“Master, what is it that I hear? Who are

those people so defeated by their pain?”

      And he to me: “This miserable way

is taken by the sorry souls of those

who lived without disgrace and without praise.

      They now commingle with the coward angels,

the company of those who were not rebels

nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.

      The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,

have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them —

even the wicked cannot glory in them.” 

Dante Alighieri, Inferno

Music: De Profundis – Vasari Singers

Psalmus 129 (130)Psalm 129 (130)
1 De profundis clamavi ad te Domine1 Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord:
2 Domine exaudi vocem meam fiant aures tuae intendentes in vocem deprecationis meae2 Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
3 Si iniquitates observabis Domine Domine quis sustinebit3 If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.
4 Quia apud te propitiatio est propter legem tuam sustinui te Domine sustinuit anima mea in verbum eius4 For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word:
5 Speravit anima mea in Domino5 my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
6 A custodia matutina usque ad noctem speret Israel in Domino6 From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
7 Quia apud Dominum misericordia et copiosa apud eum redemptio7 Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption.
8 Et ipse redimet Israel ex omnibus iniquitatibus eius8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Alleluia: Speak, Lord!

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 26, 2022

Today’s Readings

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse suggests an amazing consideration- that the Almighty God responds to our human invitation!

Alleluia, alleluia.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

1 Sm 3:9; Jn 6:68

This humble, hopeful prayer encapsulates themes from each of today’s readings which all use the symbol of a yoke to illustrate their message.

Elisha, and the listeners to both Paul and Jesus understand what a yoke does. It ties the beast of burden to its task. It also ties the one who holds the reins and plow handle.

Although the symbols of ploughing and yoke may be less familiar to us, our readings instruct us that to truly hear God’s voice in our lives we must have a deep freedom from anything that burdens our spirits. How do we do that while living normal human lives with responsibilities, worries and frustrations?

Our verse today might offer us an answer. It all depends on how we perceive our daily lives. 

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Do we see our life only for itself with all the burdens it might put on us? Or do we see it as the sacred unfolding of an infinitely deeper life – everlasting life?

  • Elisha’s life was so much more than the field he had to plow that day!
  • The Galatians lives were so much more than the “biting” arguments that plagued them that day!
  • Jesus’s invitation to follow him is to so much more than the surface concerns of our lives.

Our life in Christ is a call to live in the deep stream of grace – to live “everlasting life” even within the limits of time’s circumstances.

Doing so changes us. It breaks the yoke that constricts our vision, our hope, our capacity for mercy. It allows us to invite God to speak and to hear God’s voice in our ordinary day. It strengthens us to live with extraordinary love and “everlasting “ grace.

Poetry: from T.S.Eliot’s Ash Wednesday 

I have taken a few lines from this long poem of Eliot’s. He wrote it in his later years. He expresses his continuing struggle with living a deep faith. After the excerpt, there is a link to the entire poem. I find Eliot not to be an easy poet, but oh is he ever worth the effort!

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent

If the unheard, unspoken

Word is unspoken, unheard;

Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,

The Word without a word, the Word within

The world and for the world;

And the light shone in darkness and

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled

About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word

Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence

Not on the sea or on the islands, not

On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,

For those who walk in darkness

Both in the day time and in the night time

The right time and the right place are not here

No place of grace for those who avoid the face

No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny

the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for

Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,

Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,

time and time, between

Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait

In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray

For children at the gate

Who will not go away and cannot pray:

Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender

Yew trees pray for those who offend her

And are terrified and cannot surrender

And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks

In the last desert before the last blue rocks

The desert in the garden the garden in the desert

Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

Music – I Can Hear Your Voice – Jean Watson, Michael W. Smith

Alleluia: Full of Grace

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary
June 25, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Mary, blessed mother of Jesus, and thus of us all who have been born anew in him.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is the Virgin Mary
who kept the word of God
and pondered it in her heart.

What can this beautiful mother teach us, she who kept and pondered the very Word of God?

In order to grow fully in to God’s heart and will, this holy woman held the Word – the way the dough holds yeast to allow its own transformation.

So that she might blossom into the fullness of her own beauty, she caressed faith’s slow-forming bud in the dark protection of her prayer.

Like all of us, Mary was not divine. She was not supernatural. She was an ordinary, good woman who loved God with extraordinary passion.

She spent her days clearing her heart-space of any clutter that would keep her from God. And slowly, that Divine Presence ripened and revealed itself in the flash of an angel wing and the soundless message that would transform all time.

We too, in our particular ways, are asked to allow God the space to imagine Divinity into flesh through our human experience.

Mary believed that God could and would do such a miracle for love of us. She let the Truth of Jesus live, not only in Him, but in her own mother’s life.

This generous mother then became the first disciple, keeping company with Jesus through his Passion, Death and Resurrection

Indeed, we have much to learn from her.

Poetry: Annunciation – Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,

almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.


Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?
Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
More often
those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.


She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child – but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
only asked
a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –

but who was God.

This was the moment no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,


She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’
Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
                                                       raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
                                  consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
                               and the iridescent wings.
              courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.

Music: Two versions of the magnificent “Ave Maria”.

Ave Maria – Franz Schubert – sung by Ms. Jessye Norman, in German as written by Schubert.

( I had the immense privilege and pleasure of meeting and working with the great Jessye Norman when I chaired a UNCF event in Philadelphia many years ago. She, in her own way, was a bit “divine”!)

Ave Maria – Charles Gounod – sung by Ms. Jessye Norman in Latin, as written

Alleluia: God’s Heart for Us

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 24, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we offer our loving adoration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Who teaches us the boundless humility of God.

Although not today’s reading, this passage from Philippians captures for me the perfect description of God’s humility in Jesus:

Though Jesus was in the form of God,
he did not count equality with God
a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form
he humbled himself
and became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Creator.

Philippians 2: 6-11

In order to meet our invisible God in prayer, we must imagine God in the ways that most speak to our spirits. For St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that image came in the form of the Sacred Heart, an image which combines both the sacred infinity and the full human heart of Jesus.

Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690) was a French Roman Catholic Visitation nun and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form.

We must never be discouraged or give way to anxiety. . . but ever have recourse to the adorable Heart of Jesus.

Margaret Mary Alacoque

As we pray on this holy feast, may we lean closer and more confidently into the loving heart of Jesus. God loves us enough to do for us what is described in our passage from Philippians. May we fully trust that love and give our own hearts to it.

Poetry: from Rumi in The Masnavi, an extensive poem written in Persian. The Masnavi is one of the most influential works of Sufism, commonly called “the Quran in Persian”. It has been viewed by many commentators as the greatest mystical poem in world literature. The Masnavi is a series of six books of poetry that together amount to around 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. It is a spiritual text that teaches Sufis how to reach their goal of being truly in love with God.

Open the Window

There’s a street where the Beautiful One
is known to take a stroll.

When a certain radiance is noticed
through the latticed windows
of that neighborhood,

people whisper, The Beloved
must be near.

Listen: open a window to God
and breathe. Delight yourself
with what comes through that opening.

The work of love is to create
a window in the heart,

for the breast is illumined
by the beauty of the Beloved.

Gaze incessantly on that Face!
Listen, this is in your power, my friend!

Find a way to your innermost secret.
Let no other perception distract you.

You, yourself, possess the elixir,
so rub it into your skin,

and by this alchemy
your inner enemies will become friends.

And as you are made beautiful,
the Beautiful One will become your own,
the intimate of your once lonely spirit.

Music: This Ancient Love – Carolyn McDade

Alleluia: Prepare God’s Way

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
June 23, 2022 ( usually 6/24)

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the feast of John the Baptist! What a life! What a man!

Alleluia, alleluia.
You, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.

From a little baby leaping in his mother’s womb to the grown man ferociously in love with God, John the Baptist is holy fire in the flesh.

I’ve had a real love for him since my early religious life. Mother Mary Bernard, Mother General in the early 60s, had great devotion to John. She chose June 24th both to receive me and my companions into the community, and to celebrate our First Profession.

I remember Mother talking to us during a retreat leading up to one of these events. She spoke at length about John, emphasizing one particular verse he uttered:

Mother said that coming to understand this verse was what a holy, joyful, and complete life was all about.

Here is a reflection I wrote about John a few years ago.

The Sharp Edge

John the Baptist by Caravaggio

In John the Baptist, we celebrate the greatest of the prophets, a man whom history has now sanctified in Scripture, statue, painting, and song.

But what might it have been like to know him in time?

Prophets generally make us uncomfortable. Like John, they shake up their family’s routine, sometimes rendering their parents speechless and their neighbors astounded. They might dress oddly, rant a bit, and follow a strange diet. They hang out in inhospitable places. Prophets are the oddities on the edge of our striving for comfort. Someone like John the Baptist would not be the most popular member of your country club.

And yet John the Baptist’s call is one given, in its own particular measure, to every disciple of Christ: 

  • Go to the sharp edge of your existence. That is where you will find the Divine Presence. 
  • Go by way of the inner desert, continually learning the aridity of all that is not God. 
  • Shed the trappings that separate you from the Holy – be they the adoration of wealth, power, or vanity. 
  • Then speak the Truth you have become.

The poet Mary Oliver put it simply this way:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

Where will we find the prophets today? At the borders of everything. But they will be building bridges, not walls. They will be inviting the rest of us out of the quagmire of our comfort zones to come see Christ rising on the bright distance of our courage. Today’s prophets, like John, will be pointing away from themselves to the place where Christ waits with His counter-cultural Gospel – among those who are poor, weakened by the world, among the marginalized who live at life’s sharp edge where Grace is most accessible because it is all there is.

The wonderful Baptist, robed in his camel hair, eating locusts, shouting and throwing people into the Jordan! The greatest of the prophets calls down the hills of time to us today: “Behold One is coming after me. Prepare your hearts! Do not miss Him!”

Poetry: John the Baptist –  Kelly Chripczuk

He didn’t see it, but felt it
through the darkness
of his mother’s womb,
the flame that baptized
drawn close enough
to singe his foot,
which caused him to leap.
The wild fire caught
and grew, ruining him
for a life of conformity.
So he moved to the wilderness
somewhere near the river’s edge
where others were drawn
by the smoldering flame.
He doused them each with water,
warning them one-by-one
of the fire to come.
Later, when he leapt
from this world to the next,
leaving his head behind,
he was greeted by the fellowship
of the flame – Isaiah
with his charred black lips,
Miriam who danced
like a flickering wick,
and the others, too many now to name
together they glowed like
so many embers,
lighting the long, dark night.

Visit Kelly’s wonderful website ” The Contemplative Life” at:

Music: BWV30 Cantata for Nativity of St John the Baptist – Karl Richter conducting

First Part

  1. Aria (S, A, T, B)

Joyful be, O ransomed throng,
Joyful be in Zion’s dwellings.
Thy well-being hath henceforth
Found a sure and solid means
Thee with bliss and health to shower.

  1. Recit. (B)

We have our rest,
The burden of the law
Has been removed.
Nought shall from this repose distract us,
Which our belovéd fathers oft
Had sought with yearning and with hope.
Come forth,
Be joyful all, whoever can,
And raise to pay their God due honor
A song of praise,
And all the heav’nly choir,
Yea, sing in glad accord!

  1. Aria (B)

All praise be to God, all praise for his name’s sake,
Who faithfully keepeth his promise and vow!
His faithful servant hath been born now,
Who long had for this been elected,
That he the Lord his way prepare.

  1. Recit. (A)

The herald comes and sounds the king’s approach,
He calls; so tarry not
And get ye up,
And with a lively pace
Rush to this voice’s call!
It shows the way, it shows the light
By which we on those blessed pastures
At last may surely gaze with wonder.

  1. Aria (A)

Come, ye sorely tempted sinners,
Haste and run, O Adam’s children,
This your Savior calls and cries!
Come forth, ye like sheep that wander,
Rise ye up from sin-filled slumber,
For now is the hour of grace!

  1. Chorale (S, A, T, B)

There a voice of one is crying
In the desert far and wide,
Leading mankind to conversion:
For the Lord the way prepare,
Make for God a level path,
All the world should henceforth rise,
Every valley shall be lifted,
That the mountains may be humbled.

Second Part

  1. Recit. (B)

If thou dost then, my hope, intend
That law which thou didst make
With our forefathers to maintain
And in thy gracious might o’er us to reign,
Then will I set with utmost care
On this my purpose:
Thee, faithful God, at thy command
In holiness and godly fear to live.

  1. Aria (B)

I will detest now
And all avoid
Which thee, my God, doth cause offense.

I will thee not cause sadness,
Instead sincerely love thee,
For thou to me so gracious art.

  1. Recit. (S)

And even though the fickle heart
In human weakness is innate,
Yet here and now let this be said:
So oft the rosy morning dawns,
So long one day the next one lets ensue,
So long will I both strong and firm
Through thine own Spirit live,
My God, entirely for thine honor.
And now shall both my heart and voice
According to thy covenant
With well deservéd praise extol thee.

  1. Aria (S)

Haste, ye hours, come to me,
Bring me soon into those pastures!

I would with the holy throng
To my God an altar raise,
In the tents of Kedar offered,(1)
Where I’ll give eternal thanks.

  1. Recit. (T)

Forbear, the loveliest of days
Can no more far and distant be,
When thou from every toil
Of imperfection’s earthly burdens,
Which thee, my heart, doth now enthrall,
Wilt come to have thy perfect freedom.
Thy hope will come at last,
When thou with all the ransomed spirits,
In that perfected state,
From death here of the body wilt be freed,
And there thee no more woe will torment.

  1. Aria (S, A, T, B)

Joyful be, O hallowed throng,
Joyful be in Zion’s pastures!

Of thy joyful majesty,
Of thy full contentment’s bliss
Shall all time no end e’er witness.

Alleluia: Remain …

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
June 22, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the beautiful word “Remain“. Jesus’s use of the word indicates that we are already in God, in the heart of Jesus. All we have to do is to remain there by our choice to live in grace.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.

The Alleluia Verse also blesses us with the assurance that Jesus chooses to remain in us! Wow! What an astounding gift! Just hold it in your heart for a while in prayerful gratitude.

Our verse, with its profound confidences, leads to a no-nonsense Gospel in which Jesus makes discipleship clear:

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them

Matthew 7: 18-20

We pray to REMAIN
and to bear good fruit

A Quote and a Scientific Explanation:

Quote from John Bunyan. This quote reminds us that in order for the soul to bear fruit, it must experience some cold and dark times as well

It is said that in some countries
trees will grow,
but will bear no fruit
because there is no winter there.

Scientific Explanation from Carnegie Museum of Natural History:

Many of our fruit and nut trees require a cold period to produce fruit. Without cold this winter, we won’t have fruit this fall. If our fruit trees don’t get enough cold, then the flower buds may not open in the spring. If the flower buds don’t open, they can’t get pollinated

Music: I Am the Vine – John Michael Talbot