If … then. Uh oh!

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter 

May 25, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings challenge us.

Jn15_20JPG

Jesus talks about the kind of blowback his disciples can expect for living their faith in  an inimical world. He gives us some “if … then” statements:

  • 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, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.
  • If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Reading these verses makes me wonder if I am really living the Gospel, because I don’t feel all that persecuted.

And then I think that this is because I really live in two worlds. I live in first world comfort and security. But there is also a part of me that agonizes daily over the injustice rampant in our shared world. Today’s Gospel challenges me to live more intentionally in that second world.

Walter Brueggemann says this:

Faith is both the conviction
that justice can be accomplished
and the refusal to accept injustice.”
Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out

Jesus was not persecuted simply because he did miracles and preached love. This loving, life-giving ministry confronted the dominant, government-generated culture which relied on the subjugation and despair of those they dominated.

Jesus, just like other prophets, was killed because he gave hope to a people whose freedom threatened the status quo comfort of the dominators. Just like  Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Oscar Romero , Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Wang Zhiming , the Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek  (All names are clickable to find more information.)

I don’t aspire to martyrdom. But I do want to be a true disciple of Jesus. The way available to us is to live and act with mercy and compassion for the poor, marginalized people Jesus so loves. We can do this by voting, advocating for, and sponsoring programs and agendas for social justice.  This link from the Sisters of Mercy is a help on how to do that:

Click here for Sisters of Mercy Advocacy page

Brueggemann also says this:

Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness. In the arrangement of “lawfulness” in Jesus’ time, as in the ancient empire of Pharaoh, the one unpermitted quality of relation was compassion. Empires are never built or maintained on the basis of compassion.” (Prophetic Imagination)

May our hearts be moved by grace to the depth of compassion we have learned from Jesus.

P.S. I know that many of you have responded to this request I placed on Facebook. Thank you. For those who don’t do Facebook, this is an urgent request for help for refugees at our southern border. It’s an easy way to do some good things.It was received from Sisters of Mercy Leadership Team in D.C.

Music for today is below this request. 


appeal


Music: Compassion- The Gettys 

Live in Christ

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter 

May 22, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our Gospel gives us the powerful metaphor of the Vine and the Branches.

John15_2 vine

How do we grow more deeply into God? Or how do we let God grow more deeply into us? Or do we even want those things to happen?

If our lives seem to be riding along on their own, we may not pay all that much attention to God’s Presence in our experiences. And that’s where we miss the opportunity to be grafted on to the Vine.

How unfortunate if we never learn to befriend our own souls, because that is the place where God speaks to us. St. Teresa of Avila put it this way:


What friends or kindred can be so close and intimate as the powers of our soul, which, whether we will or no, must ever bear us company?
— St. Theresa of Avila, The Interior Castle


Some practices to help that “befriending” are the appreciation of quiet, the routine of prayer, the love of scripture, the reverence of nature and humanity, and the practice of charity.

The Little Flower offers us great insight into friendship with God:


I understand and I know from experience that: ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ Jesus has no need of books or teachers to instruct souls; He teaches without the noise of words. Never have I heard Him speak, but I feel that He is within me at each moment; He is guiding and inspiring me with what I must say and do. I find just when I need them certain lights that I had not seen until then, and it isn’t most frequently during my hours of prayer that these are most abundant but rather in the midst of my daily occupations.”
― St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul – the Autobiography of St. Therese


Lest my men readers fear I’ve gone all girly with these women saints (and by the way, they were not girly.  They were powerhouses of spiritual dynamism!), try this from St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits:


Try to keep your soul always in peace and quiet, always ready for whatever our Lord may wish to work in you. it is certainly a higher virtue of the soul, and a greater grace, to be able to enjoy the Lord in different times and different places than in only one.
― Saint Ignatius, Letter to Francisco de Borja, Duke of Gandía


Summary of all this thought: God lives in us and we live in God, as branches live in the Vine. May we let ourselves absorb, cherish and celebrate this astounding Gift!

PS: Sending another personal thought on a little later this evening. 

Music: I Am the Vine- John Michael Talbot

All Things New!

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 19, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings celebrate the New Creation given us in Jesus Christ.

Rev_ new

Acts describes the continuing whirlwind journey of Paul and Barnabas. They buzz all over the Mediterranean basin, carrying the Good News to Jews and Gentiles. Their work and enthusiasm teach us what the word “apostolic” truly signifies- reaching out to all people with the message of Jesus. Paul and Barnabas return home jubilant, 

… reporting what God had done with them
and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

In our second reading, John, the visionary and poet, has another kind of door opened for him. His vision is of a New Creation, joined with God in a covenant of love. God renews the promise once made to Abraham, this time embodied in the gift of Jesus Christ to all humanity:

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us once again how it is that we become part of this New Creation:

I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

All of these glorious images may help us see our life in God through new eyes. Perhaps there are a few half-closed doors in our lives that need to be oiled with the grace of renewal. Simply recognizing these in prayer, in God’s presence, is a step toward a New Creation of our hearts and spirits. We are so beloved of God! Let us open our hearts to that renewing love.

Music: Stars Go Dim – Heaven on Earth (This will wake you up!🤗)

Do You Have Your Housekey?

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 17, 2019

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Jn14_2 dwelling

Today, in Mercy, Paul continues his preaching in Antioch. He delivers a very powerful, and condemnatory line about the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders …

Though they found no grounds for a death sentence,
they asked Pilate to have Jesus put to death…

Being unable to accept the Truth that Jesus was, they conspired to destroy him.

Understanding, accepting and living within the Truth of God and of ourselves is the way to eternal life. In our Gospel, Jesus tells us that he is this Way, Truth and Life.

It sounds so straightforward and simple, doesn’t it? 

But in our world, truth has lost its definition. Its edges have been stretched beyond recognition by propaganda, moral convenience, political pretense, false advertising, manipulative social media, and other forms of self-serving deceit.

truthThe distortion of truth has become epidemic among us, infecting us all in one way or another.

Just as in the presence of any disease, we need to take precautions to keep ourselves healthy – true to God and to ourselves:

  • placing ourselves honestly before God in prayer
  • practicing a brief examination of conscience at the end of each day
  • discerning how we use power and advantage in terms of self-interest
  • living by self-respect and respect for others
  • evaluating our actions and choices in the light of the command to love one another

In the Father’s House there are many dwelling places. Truth is their entry key:

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ

Pour It All Out for Love

Saturday of the Third Week of Easter 

May 11, 2019

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Today, in Mercy,  Acts describes Peter in the full energy of his discipleship. The infant Church was at peace, being built up by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter, completely filled with this sacred power, raises a woman from the dead. He does this in the Name of Jesus to Whom he has given his entire being.

pour faith

Our Gospel describes the moment of Peter’s total commitment. Some have turned away from Jesus because of his teaching on the Eucharist. Jesus asks the Twelve if they to wish to go too.

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.

At pivotal points in our faith life, Jesus asks us the same question. May we always have the strength and insight to turn toward Christ. May we pour our hearts into the welcoming love of Jesus, just as Peter did.

Music: To Whom Shall We Go – Robin and Staci Calamaio – Father and daughter team

Be Born Again

Monday, April 29, 2019
Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church

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Jn.3_5JPG

Today, in Mercy, we move out of the intense blessings of Easter’s Octave into a time called “Eastertide”. For the next six weeks, we will continue to pray with Acts and John’s Gospel.

Eastertide is a time of great joy in the Church. This joy takes voice in special prayers used only, or with greater frequency, during this time, for example:

Vidi Aquam


Te Deum


Regina Caeli


and a proliferation of Alleluias

We, as Church, are celebrating our rebirth in Christ. It is a miracle even to have been given the gift of life. But, as Jesus tells Nicodemus in today’s Gospel, it is a gift beyond description to be reborn in the Spirit of God:

What is born of flesh is flesh
and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you,
“You must be born from above”.

Let’s pray in thanksgiving today for the gift of life for ourselves and all those we love. Let us pray for the continual rebirth of our spirits in the abundant Easter grace of the Risen Christ. (Below the music is a Birthday Prayer that you might save for your own birthday celebration.)

Music: Gradual and Alleluia – Catholic Songs, Gregorian Chant


“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you… (Jeremiah 5:1)

 On this, the day of your birth, God says to you:

Of all the myriad gifts of my creation, this is the day I made you. Rest in that thought. I made you –  For this time in history, to be in the world with these people, to live in this place, to know these times, these cultures, this evolution of my creation.

 On the day I made you, I made thousands of other creatures. Human beings, each reflecting some facet of my infinite image. Beautiful birds, riotous monkeys, infinitesimal ants. My lava broke through earth’s crusts to form new islands. I folded unseen mountains into yet undiscovered gorges, bent rivers into surprise journeys, washed entire beaches onto new shores. I was busy the day I made you. War raged and I welcomed its many victims into heaven. More creatures died on your birthday than were born. More came home to me than went out to begin their journey.

 But you were one who went out. When I opened my hand and breathed your journey into you, I smiled. I saw the wonders that could bless the world because of you. I saw a rainbow of love, generosity, mutuality, happiness, encouragement, and faith gathered like an unhatched egg in your heart. I saw the storms and winds that would release that prism in your soul. I saw it spread across a wide sky because of all the years and experiences that I would give you.

 I saw the hint of sunrise in you. Its name was mercy. It was a gift fired by the energy of My own heart. I looked beyond you to the cold and shadowed world that you would comfort with its light and warmth.

 I was happy on the day I made you. I was filled with hope for the blessing you would be. I am still filled with joy, hope and love for you on this your long-after birthday. You have tried to live my sacred dream for you.

As the sun rises glorious in the eastern sky, I promise you a future full of love.  Notice that the western sky reflects the brilliance of the sunrise, just as all the years now past assure you of my presence at the core of your life. You have been and are infinitely loved. Be love in return.  Your days are replete with mercy. Be mercy in return. Be born again this day!

©Renee Yann, RSM

 

 

Witnesses

Easter Saturday, April 27, 2010

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Acts4_20 witness

Today, in Mercy, in our reading from Acts, we see how the courage and inspiration of the disciples amazed to surrounding community.

The disciples had been known as ordinary women and men, but the power of their new-found witness was stunning:

The leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed,
and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus.
Then when they saw the man who had been cured
standing there with them,

they could say nothing in reply.

This powerful witness in the disciples was not a showy, self-promoting swagger. 

Rather, they had been radically transformed by their faith in Jesus Christ. The power poured out of them, like light from a Star.

What would it be like if the witness of our faith were so vibrant that we moved the world to wonder! What if our lives could not help but speak through our actions of mercy, justice, truth and peace?

Music:  I Will Stand as a Witness of Christ
(Please see note below song. Thanks.)

On Friday night, my religious community shares the joy of celebrating the lives of such witnesses, our Sisters marking 25, 50, 60, 70, 75, 80 and 85 years of faithful, merciful service. In an additional post, I will list their names with two poems I used while praying for them this morning.

Please join us in grateful prayer for these dear Sisters today.

Questions?

Easter Thursday, April 25, 2019

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Luke 24_questions

Today, in Mercy, Jesus asks his disciples, “Why do questions arise in your heart?”

Honestly, Lord? How could they not? You have, after all, just RISEN FROM THE DEAD! We’re not used to that, and we’re not sure how to handle it!

And about that Last Supper, when you said the bread and wine were your Body and Blood? It’s a pretty amazing statement, and we’re still trying to comprehend it.

We’re just human beings, Lord. Our minds naturally work to solve problems. That’s why we have questions – we like answers.

Only now, as Resurrection People, are we beginning to learn that you are much more the “The Answer”.  

You will always be “The Mystery” – the Infinity we are invited to –  where there is no end, only deeper, always deeper.

Help us to learn that our faith and our doubts are the same thing – they are our attempts to embrace the Question. Help us transform our doubts to faith by our unequivocal trust in your Mystery.


For God does not want to be believed in,
to be debated and defended by us,
but simply to be realized through us.”
― Martin Buber

Mystery is not to be construed
as a lacuna in our knowledge,
as a void to be filled,
but rather as a certain plentitude.
— Gabriel Marcel

Music: The Mystery of God – Dan Schutte 

Heart-struck

Easter Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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Acts2_38_heartstruck

Today, in Mercy, our readings present us with a picture of the nascent Church as it works toward understanding itself in the physical absence of Jesus.

Throughout the Gospels, we see a Christian community forming around a Leader they can see, hear and touch. Acts reveals how that community awakens to itself when Jesus is no longer materially present.

Acts shows us a Church like us. We have never seen Christ, nor heard him, nor touched him. And yet we believe, or want to believe.

In our reading today, Peter preaches with brutal honesty:

Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made him both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.

Peter’s message gets through to the assembly, to the point that, when they hear it, they are “cut to the heart”.

This phrase indicates a profound conversion in the way they believed. Peter tells them that their faith, like Jesus’ life, must now become a sign of contradiction to a “corrupt generation “.

What might this powerful passage say to us?

For one thing, the reading calls us to be honest about the sincerity of our faith. Is it the core of our lives? Or is it, at best, a Sunday hobby? Does it pervade our relationships and choices, giving witness to Christ’s commission to love? Or is it a tool to judge and vilify those who differ from us?

The reading doesn’t demand that we “preach out loud”. It calls us to a much more courageous witness: 

  • to be Truth in a world of lies
  • to be Peace in violence
  • to be Justice in the face of abuse and domination
  • to be Servant rather than be served
  • to be Love for those deemed unlovable
  • in other words, to be like Jesus

And to do it all because we have been “cut to the heart” by the witness of the Cross and Resurrection.

Music: By Faith-Keith & Kristyn Getty

Believe the Works!

Friday, April 12, 2019

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Jn10_38

Today, in Mercy,  in our readings the distress of both Jeremiah and Jesus becomes palpable.

Jeremiah says:

All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

And Jesus, as the crowd pick up stones to throw at him, says:

I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?

The Psalmist responds for both Jesus and Jeremiah:

In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

Jesus tells his persecutors:

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

Perhaps Jesus is also speaking to us in any place where our faith is weak, or we harbor doubts. He is asking us to place absolute trust in him in all things. It’s a big request and one we work a lifetime to achieve.

In our prayer, we might take time to remember the works God has already accomplished in our lives, the gifts God has given us through the years, the wonders of Creation we have experienced, the loves that have graced our days.

In gratitude and trust, let us place any distress in our hearts into the open heart of Jesus, repeating our Gospel verse for today:

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Music: Your Words Are Spirit and Life – Bernadette Farrell