Alleluia: Shadows

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
July 15, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are woven through with themes of life and death, time and eternity. These are fundamental realities at the core of our lives. Yet they are so huge in scope that they elude our comprehension.

Photo by Rui Dias on
  • How often do we ask ourselves, “Where did the time, the day, the years go”?
  • Despite all our acts of faith, aren’t we still undone by death and bereavement in our lives?
  • When we try to imagine heaven, doesn’t the image slip through our efforts like a wet sunfish lost back to the sea?

In our first reading, Hezekiah faces the same kind of bewilderment. Informed that he is about to die, he laments:

“O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly
I conducted myself in your presence,
doing what was pleasing to you!”
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Hezekiah’s pleading gains him another fifteen years. (Would that our prayers could so prevail!) His bonus is delivered accompanied by a sign:

This will be the sign for you from the LORD
that he will do what he has promised:
See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun
on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz
go back the ten steps it has advanced.

In our Gospel, Jesus doesn’t need bonuses or signs. Jesus himself is the embodiment of Life over death, Eternity over time. In today’s passage, the Pharisees try to judge and limit Jesus’s spiritual freedom by invoking the old law against him:

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”

Jesus tells them clearly that he is the new law of mercy and love. He is beyond time, death, and the judgments of human law:

I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. 
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.

Let’s pray today with our God Who is greater than time, death or human judgments. Let us trust that God has power over any shadow that might darken our lives.

Poetry: The Shadow of Thy Wing – Susan Dickinson (Emily’s sister-in-law)

Weary of life's great mart, its dust and din,
Faint with its toiling, suffering with its sin,
In childlike faith my heart to Thee I bring.
For refuge in "the shadow of thy wing."

Like a worn bird of passage, left behind
Wounded, and sinking, by its faithless kind,
With flight unsteady, seeking needed rest,
I come for shelter to Thy faithful breast.

Like a proud ship, dismantled by the gale,
Her banners lost and rifted every sail,
In the deep waters to Thy love I cling,
And hasten to the refuge of Thy wing.

O Thou, thy people's comforter alway,
Their light in darkness, and their guide by day,
Their anchor 'mid the storm, their hope in calm,
Their joy in pain, their fortress in alarm!

We are all weak, Thy strength we humbly crave;
We are all lost, and Thou alone canst save;
A weary world, to Thy dear arm we cling,
And hope for all a refuge "'neath Thy wing."

- "Original Poetry." Springfield Daily Republican, March 1, 1862

Music: Cavatina’s “The Shadows” played by 2Cellos

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