Lessons in Love and Light

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
September 19, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings encourage us to live lives of Charity and Light.

Today’s first reading opens two weeks of inspiration from the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Scriptures. These books include Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and parts of Psalms.

Wisdom literature differs from other books in the Old Testament in that the authors were sages rather than prophets or priests. Priests and prophets typically dealt with religious and moral concerns whereas sages generally focused on the practical aspects of how to live and the intellectual challenges that arise when contemplating the human experience. 

from: compellingtruth.org

Our passage from Proverbs offers a good dose of that sage advice with these basics of mutual charity:

  • Refuse no one the good on which they have a claim
  • Plot no evil against your neighbor,
  • Quarrel not with someone without cause,
  • Envy not lawless persons
  • Choose not their ways …

If we all followed that list, the world would be in pretty good shape. And, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says that once we get that shaped-up, we can take it up a notch — into the Light:

No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, you place it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.

Matthew’s version adds this line:

Let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds 
and glorify God in heaven.

So how do I let Charity kindle God’s Light in me? The list from Proverbs can get me started, but what might my own “Charity Challenges” look like?

Poetry: Charity — The Greatest of All Three – Robert Morris

The soul serene, impenetrably just, 
Is first in CHARITY; we love to muse 
On such a model; knit in strictest bonds 
Of amity with spirits like disposed; 
Aiming at truth for her own sake, this one 
Passes beyond the golden line of Faith, 
Passes beyond the precious line of Hope, 
And sets foot unmoved on CHARITY . 
“A soul so softly radiant and so white, 
The track it leaves seems less of fire than light.”


Music: Lampstand – Ben Bigelow

(Spoiler alert: Those who are still able may want to dance by the end of this video!🤩 I just did a very good finger-snapping routine)

Earthshine & Bling!

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 18, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings make one thing very clear: we cannot serve both God and “mammon”.

The problem is that we have a hard time figuring out what mammon is. Experience tells us that it’s a lot more than just money, because there are people with money who do a good job serving God.

It seems to me that “mammon” is more the illusion that we are only our “possessions” — our money, house, car, looks, degrees, physical abilities — and that we (or anybody else) is nothing without them.

This misperception is so intrinsic to our inability to live the Gospel that it cripples our souls. The love of “mammon” becomes an overwhelming, incurable addiction that feeds on the well-being of our neighbor.

As our first reading tells us, living by this addiction invokes God’s eternal anger. Describing the abuse heaped upon the poor, God warns the abusers:

The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Never will I forget a thing they have done!

Amos 8:7

Our Gospel tells us that we can’t have it both ways. We either live within the generosity and inclusivity of God, or we’re outside it:

No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,

or be devoted to one and despise the other.

Luke 16:13

This is a challenging but fundamental teaching of the Gospel. It is essential that we consider how we live it.

Walter Bruggemann, in his book Money and Possessions says this:

Jesus said it … succinctly. You cannot serve God and mammon. You cannot serve God and do what you please with your money or your sex or your land. And then he says, “Don’t be anxious, because everything you need will be given to you.” But you must decide. Christians have a long history of trying to squeeze Jesus out of public life and reduce him to a private little Savior. But to do this is to ignore what the Bible really says. Jesus talks a great deal about the kingdom of God—and what he means by that is a public life reorganized toward neighborliness. . . .

Let’s have the courage to pray with that thought today. Although challenging, the question is rather simple: how do we use what we have to live a Gospel life, the essence of which Jesus stated like this:

Love God above all things

and your neighbor as yourself.

Mark 12:30-31


Poetry: Cullen in the Afterlife – P. K. Page

(This poet is new to me. She is a Canadian poet whose work is noted for its vibrant images. I liked this poem in which she imagines the experience of finding oneself in the afterlife. She notes the difficulty of embracing Love when hampered by “mammon” which she called “Earthshine”.

And how partake of such a gift when he
was handicapped by Earthshine—wore the stars,
badges and medals of privilege and success?
Desensitizers, brutalizers—all 
the tricks that mammon plays to make one sleep.


Cullen in the Afterlife – P. K. Page

He found it strange at first. A new dimension.  
One he had never guessed. The fourth? The fifth? 
How could he tell, who’d only known the third?
Something to do with eyesight, depth of field.
Perspective quite beyond him. Everything flat
or nearly flat. The vanishing point 
they’d tried to teach at school was out of sight
and out of mind. A blank.

Now, this diaphanous dimension—one
with neither up nor down, nor east nor west,
nor orienting star to give him north.
Even his name had left him. Strayed like a dog. 
Yet he was bathed in some unearthly light,
a delicate no-color that made his flesh
transparent, see-through, a Saran-Wrap self.
His body without substance and his mind
with nothing to think about—although intact—
was totally minus purpose. He must think.

Think of a Rubens, he said to himself. But where
Rubens had been there was a void, a vast
emptiness—no opulence. And then
Cézanne who broke all matter up—
made light of it, in fact. And mad Van Gogh
who, blinded by the light, cut off his ear.
Gone—that shadowy assembly—vanished, done. 
Gone without substance. Like himself. A shell.
Insensate in a flash. (What was that flash—
bereft of all but essence?) Was it death?
He wondered about the word, so filled with breath
yet breathless, breathless, breathless. A full stop.

“Divino Espirito Santo,” he had said
once in Brazil, “Soul of my very soul.”
He’d prayed in Portuguese, an easier tongue—
for newly agnostic Anglos—than his own,
burdened with shibboleths and past beliefs.
“Alma de minha alma”—liquid words
that made a calm within him. Where within?
Was there a word for it? Was it his heart?

Engulfed by love. Held in a healing beam
of love-light. Had he earned such love?
And how partake of such a gift when he
was handicapped by Earthshine—wore the stars,
badges and medals of privilege and success?
Desensitizers, brutalizers—all 
the tricks that mammon plays to make one sleep.
He must wake up. He must expose and strip
successive layers to find his soul again.
Where had the rubble come from? He was like
a junkyard—cluttered, filled with scrap iron, tin.
As dead as any metal not in use.
So he must start once more. He had begun
how many times? Faint glimmerings and dim
memories of pasts behind the past
recently lived—the animal pasts and vague
vegetable pasts—those climbing vines and fruits;
and mineral pasts (a slower pulse) the shine
of gold and silver and the gray of iron.
The “upward anguish.”
                                   What a rush of wings
above him as he thought the phrase and knew 
angels were overhead, and over them
a million suns and moons.

Music: a simple mantra, but powerful if we can live it: Love God, Love Neighbor by Dale Sechrest

Heartfelt Mercy

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul reminds us and calls us to live as Christ’s Body.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Our prayer might lead us to ask ourselves, “How exactly have I been part of Christ’s Body in my life today?”.


The Gospel story of the widow of Nain could help us answer. Reading it, I remember standing by a large walkway window at the Louisville Airport on a sweltering July day in 2005.

Down on the heat-softened tarmac, a small bevy of soldiers stood at attention. Slowly, a flag-draped casket was lowered into their waiting arms. Just to the side, a huddled family, waited as well. Two children clung to either side of their young mother. An older couple stood behind her, hands gentled on her shoulders.

At the window, several other travelers gathered in silence. A few teenage boys removed their inverted baseball caps when they noticed a distinguished older gentleman stand tall and hold a salute.

No one who witnessed that brief ceremony will ever forget it. The grief, reverence and astonishment at life’s fragility emblazoned the moment on every witnessing heart.



When Jesus passed the gates of Nain on that ancient morning, he had a like experience. He saw this “only son of a widowed mother”. Once again, shaken to his roots with compassion –splancha, he pulled heaven down to heal heart-breaking loss.

As Jesus drew near to the gate of the city
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his widowed mother.

How I wished Jesus were flying out of Louisville that day in 2005! But then I realized He was there. The miracle was hidden, but still real. The Divine Compassion flowed through me, through the reverent gathering beside me, through the soldiers’ honoring arms, through the long prayerful memory we would all forever share.

That young man from Nain was raised from the dead… for a while. He, like all of us, eventually died. The miracle was not about him and his life. The miracle was the visible sign of God’s Lavish Mercy for us – God’s “feeling-with-us” in all our experiences. That compassion, whether miraculously visible or not, is always with us. It just took a different form that day in Louisville.

The baptismal commission to be Christ’s Body in the world calls each of us to the same type of compassion, of “being with” those who suffer, of honoring the God-given life of every person, and of believing in its ultimate resurrection.

Poetry: FIRSTBORN SONS AND THE WIDOW OF NAIN (LUKE 7:11–15)
by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

Jesus halted on the road outside Nain
where a woman’s wailing drenched the air.
Out of the gates poured a somber procession
of dark-shawled women, hushed children,
young men bearing a litter that held
a body swathed in burial clothes,
and the woman, walking alone.

A widow then—another bundle
of begging rags at the city gates.
A bruised reed!

Her loud grief labored and churned in him till
“Halt!” he shouted.
The crowd, the woman, the dead man stopped.
Dust, raised by sandaled feet,
settled down again on the sandy road.
Insects waited in shocked silence.
He walked to the litter, grasped a dead hand.
“Young man,” he called
in a voice that shook the walls of Sheol,
“I command you, rise!” The linens stirred.
Two firstborn sons from Nazareth and Nain
met, eye to eye. He placed the pulsing hand into hers.
“Woman, behold your son,” he smiled.

Music:  The Body of Christ – Sarah Hart

Alleluia: Unless …

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
August 10, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081022.cfm

St. Lawrence
Saint Lawrence. Mosaic from the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence who is noted for his love for those who were poor. Legend has it that Lawrence was demanded, before his martyrdom, to turn over the Church’s riches to the emperor Valerian. Instead, he distributed all the resources among the poor. Lawrence then gathered all these people, presenting them before Valerian with these words:

Behold in these poor persons 
the treasures which I promised to show you –
these are the true treasures of the Church.

Lawrence was likely inspired by readings like today’s. In Corinthians, Paul encourages us to be cheerful givers. He says this delights God, the Giver of Divine Abundance, whom we are imitating.


In our reading from John, Jesus says that only in dying to ourselves do we live – the ultimate generosity. He says that only by doing this can we truly follow him.

While these readings are clear and simple, they are so profound that we can hardly take in their message. What they ask of us is daunting! The encouragement Jesus gives us to respond to his challenge is this:

The Father will honor whoever serves me.

St. Lawrence believed and lived this promise. What about us?


Poetry: St. Laurence – Joyce Kilmer

Within the broken Vatican 
The murdered Pope is lying dead. 
The soldiers of Valerian 
Their evil hands are wet and red. 
Unarmed, unmoved, St. Laurence waits, 
His cassock is his only mail. 
The troops of Hell have burst the gates, 
But Christ is Lord, He shall prevail. 
They have encompassed him with steel, 
They spit upon his gentle face, 
He smiles and bleeds, nor will reveal 
The Church's hidden treasure-place. 
Ah, faithful steward, worthy knight, 
Well hast thou done. Behold thy fee! 
Since thou hast fought the goodly fight 
A martyr's death is fixed for thee. 
St. Laurence, pray for us to bear 
The faith which glorifies thy name. 
St. Laurence, pray for us to share 
The wounds of Love's consuming flame.

Music: Before the Bread – Elizabeth Alexander

We all want our lives to be full and complete – to be “bread”. But there are many steps before the grain of wheat becomes bread, as captured in this elegant acapella canon.

Alleluia: Remain …

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

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062222.cfm

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

Alleluia: I’m Rich!

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
June 18, 2022

Today’s readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse tells us a secret: there is a greater wealth than this world would have us believe. It is a wealth contradicted by human definitions but proven in the Resurrection of Christ.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.

This secret doesn’t make sense to one without faith. But if we observe the Iives of those with faith, we will discover their accumulating riches: peace, joy, trust, enthusiasm, hope, gratitude, wisdom, courage….


The Gospel to which our verse leads describes such a faithful life:

Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.

Matthew 6: 26-27

Does this all mean we won’t have challenges in our lives, or disappointment, or suffering? No, I don’t think so.

What is does mean is that we will know what is truly important and precious in our lives – those things that “money can’t buy”. And we will honor them, work for them, share them. Hopefully, people can look at us and find that kind of wealth.


Poetry: Worry About Money – Kathleen Raine

Wearing worry about money like a hair shirt
I lie down in my bed and wrestle with my angel.

My bank-manager could not sanction my continuance for another day
But life itself wakes me each morning, and love

Urges me to give although I have no money
In the bank at this moment, and ought properly

To cease to exist in a world where poverty
Is a shameful and ridiculous offence.

Having no one to advise me, I open the Bible
And shut my eyes and put my finger on a text

And read that the widow with the young son
Must give first to the prophetic genius
From the little there is in the bin of flour and the cruse of oil.


Music: two songs today – one for reflection and one for fun

The Glory Way – Badnarik

Side by Side – Brenda Lee

Alleluia: Be Love!

June 9, 2022
Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse holds the complete essence of Jesus’s life. If there ever was glorious “nutshell”, this is it:

Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you. (Jn. 13:34)

Our motherhouse chapel is breathtakingly beautiful. Thinking of it as a “chapel”, people who first walk through its doors are astounded at itscathedral-like dimensions. I know I certainly was as a wonder-struck eighteen-year-old on my first visit.

Our Chapel in the 1950s

For the next almost three years, I often sat in my little pew pondering the chapel’s central mural — and especially the words framing it.

The words are an invitation and a command. The painting beneath is the whole instruction on Love… “…love as I have loved you.”

After those initial years, I chose those precious words for the motto to be engraved on my ring. I have prayed ever since that it might someday be engraved on my heart. In a culture that can so misunderstand the nature of love, I always appreciate the chance to visit that altar or to look at that ring.

May we have the courage to be
“Alleluia Lovers”
in this love-hungry world!

Poetry: from one of the greatest poets, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians

If I speak in the tongues in human or angelic tongue 
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.
If I give away all I have,
and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; 
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends. 
As for prophecies, they will pass away;
as for tongues, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I grew up, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; 
but the greatest of these is love.

Music: Love Never Ends – by The Corner Room

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 21, 2022

Jn15:18 world

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus talks about “the world”.

That word can cause a little confusion, both as we find it in scripture and in the history of Christian thought.

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology says five connotations for “world” may be found in scripture:

  • The physical world – the actual plant Earth
  • The human world – the land and seas we can navigate
  • The moral world – the universe of good and evil
  • The temporal world – the world that will someday end
  • The coming world – eternal existence 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is talking about the moral world which, in the New Testament, refers to those people who are indifferent and hostile to Christ’s teaching.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world…
the world hates you.

John 15:18

wolf-clipart-57
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

We understand this use of the word. We see the evil in the world. We are saddened, angered and confounded by it when we recognize it.

But do we always recognize it?

Blatant evils like mass shootings and racial violence are readily recognized. But how do we sincerely act to confrontt and eradicate these evils?

And still, the most insidious evils are those that masquerade as good.

These masquerading evils often pretend to protect our rights, our security, our safety. But they usually do so at the expense of someone else’s rights – the poor, the refugee, the aged, the homeless, people of color……and all who have become “disposable” or invisible in our society.


These deceptions hide behind brave and noble words like “America First”, “Second Amendment Rights”, “Protect Life” and a rash of other slogans which fail to examine the whole impact of single-issue politics. 

It’s confusing because we love America, right? We believe in people’s constitutional rights, right? We respect life, right?

What if our slogans instead more clearly reflected Gospel values:

  • The Human Family First
  • Safety Rights for Everyone
  • Health Security for All Life – Womb to Tomb

How can we be spiritually discerning about what is good within such realities and what is rooted in sinful self-interest? Jesus tells us in these words:

Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

John 15:18-20

We must look to the one who is hated and persecuted to find the Face of Christ. We must love that Face and learn its heartaches. We must become a companion in their search for wholeness. We must set aside any costume of self-righteousness and put on the garment of Mercy.


from Scripture: I think this passage, as well as divine inspiration, is pure poetry!

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:14-16


Music: The Mercy Song – Paul Alexander

Lent: Written in Dust

April 3, 2022
Fifth Sunday of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus writes new rules for life in the venerable Jerusalem dust.

Jn8_1_11JPG

Jesus enjoys an early morning walk from the Mount of Olives to the Temple. The weather, no doubt, was typically beautiful since others easily gathered and sat around Jesus to hear his teaching.

But the Pharisees, vigilant for an opportunity to condemn Jesus, executed a mean-hearted plot.

Dragging a woman “caught in the act of adultery” before the encircled men, they demanded Jesus’s judgment of the distraught woman.

Woman Taken in Adultery – Rembrandt, National Gallery London

Imagine the woman’s terror.  Her poverty and loneliness have already forced her into an ignoble commerce. Had she the chance, she surely would have chosen an easier life.

Now, her meager quarters have been broken into, her privacy invaded in the most intimate of circumstances.  Her adulterous accomplice has either turned her in, or absconded in cowardice. She is surrounded by brutal accusers, many of whom are likely her former customers.

But Jesus sees the woman, not her sin. He responds to her heart not her actions.  He also sees these evil, plotting men and responds to their veiled motivations.


Wouldn’t we love to know what Jesus scribbled in the Temple dirt as these blood-thirsty hypocrites hung over him?

Might it have been the names of those who also visited the woman on earlier nights?

Might it have been some of their hidden sins?

Challenged to cast the first stone if they were sinless, the plotters slowly slink away.  Jesus is left to forgive and heal this suffering woman.

Jesus tells her to go and sin no more, to -as the first reading says – “remember not the things of the past”. Jesus has made her into a new person by the power of his mercy.


May that renewing Mercy touch us, and our world, where we sorely need it.

May it flow through our renewed hearts to everyone we encounter, no matter the circumstances.


Poetry: Two beautiful poems today. The first refers specifically to Rembrandt’s painting above:

Rembrandt, “The Woman Taken in Adultery,” National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London
by Peter Cooley, Senior Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane University and lives in New Orleans.

Just as I came out of the Gallery,
I saw a gull among hoards of tourists
encircling the statue of Lord Nelson,
crazed while I prayed he'd make it out, resume
flight I attribute to all birds, boundless.
But my dying: I try to keep it lined
around the edges of the ordinary
so I can—shall I say—appreciate?

Drawn to that picture by the glowing dark
around the woman, kneeling, Christ standing,
the Scribes and Pharisees shrouded in black,
I saw she, too, has just discovered light,
knowing, moments ago, she escaped stoning.
She just this instant came to where I'm going.

The second poem is by the beautiful Franciscan poet, Irene Zimmerman, OSF.

From the angry crunch of their sandaled feet
as they left the courtyard, Jesus knew,
without looking up from his writing on the ground,
that the Pharisees and scribes still carried their stones.

The woman stood where they’d shoved her,
her hair hanging loose over neck and face,
her hands still shielding her head
from the stones she awaited.

“Woman,” he asked, “has no one condemned you?”

The heap of woman shuddered, unfolded.
She viewed the courtyard — empty now —
with wild, glazed eyes and turned back to him.
“No one, Sir,” she said, unsurely.

Compassion flooded him like a wadi after rain.
He thought of his own mother — had she known such fear? —
and of the gentle man whom he had called Abba.
Only when Joseph lay dying had he confided
his secret anguish on seeing his betrothed
swelling up with seed not his own.

“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus said.
“Go your way and sin no more.”

Black eyes looked out from an ashen face,
empty, uncomprehending.
Then life rushed back.
She stood before him like a blossoming tree.

“Go in peace and sin no more,”
Jesus called again as she left the courtyard.

He had bought her at a price, he knew.
The stony hearts of her judges
would soon hurl their hatred at him.
His own death was a mere stone’s throw away.


Music:  Remember Not the Things of the Past – Bob Hurd

Lent: Pray for the Enemy

March 24, 2022
Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Today in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jeremiah begins our readings by describing the evil heart:

… they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to Me.

Jeremiah :24

It is a terrible thing to encounter a truly evil-hearted person – someone who exudes a twisted energy which is the polar opposite of God’s Love.

I believe we are seeing such a individual now in the person of Vladimir Putin. His actions leave us astounded at their arrogance and cruelty. How can such a person face himself, and certainly, how can he face God?


But our Psalm and Gospel Verse, lead me to ask myself the question:

What if we prayed FOR Vladimir Putin?

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

What if we took pity on the wretched soul he has become and asked God to heal his mind and give him a new heart? He has become sick with evil, and that is a tragic thing to see in a leader responsible for millions of lives!


All of us feel tremendous sorrow and compassion toward the Ukrainian people. But in the end, no matter what, they will triumph through their sincerity, courage and faithfulness.

Putin, on the other hand, is otherwise lost for all eternity.


Will you consider praying today for Putin and those who share his evil culpabilities that they may yet hear the voice of goodness, justice, peace, and reverence for human life?

As we witness the power of God revealed in our Gospel story, let us ask that the evil of war be driven out of the hearts of all those responsible for the outrageous suffering and inhumanity being perpetrated again the people of Ukraine and in all war-infested parts of our world.


Music: Shchedryk by Mykola Leontovich

One of the world’s most famous Christmas songs – The Carol of the Bells – was based on the Ukrainian song Shchedryk, written in 1916 by composer Mykola Leontovich, which was in turn based on the melody and lyrics of a pre-Christian folk song.

This is Gimnazija Kranj Symphony Orchestra and Choir’s dedication to brave Ukrainian people who suffer under the brutal Russian invasion. Our musicians performed this beautiful love song a couple of years ago. Tine Bec did an amazing arrangement. It was composed by Mykola Leontovych: Shchedryk (Carol the Bells) with a splendid arrangement, made by composer Slovenian Tine Bec.

This arrangement is magical. It starts like deep sad mourning and continues to strengthen, unitarian voice, which is stronger than any steel, any armoury and any Russian bullet, rocket or trank grande. Music is a winner. It gives hope, unites us in a way, that no aggression will ever win.

Arrangement: Tine Bec
Piano: Monika Podlogar; Cello: Katarina Minatti