Both Felt and Yet Awaited …

Second Sunday of Advent
December 4, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120422.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah paints the vision of Shalom.

“Shalom” is a Hebrew word commonly translated to English as “peace”.

In Hebrew, words are built on “roots”, generally of three consonants. When the root consonants appear with various vowels and additional letters, a variety of words, often with some relation in meaning, can be formed from a single root. Thus from the root sh-l-m come the words shalom (“peace, well-being”), hishtalem (“it was worth it”), shulam (“was paid for”), meshulam (“paid for in advance”), mushlam (“perfect”), and shalem (“whole”).


Our passage from Isaiah indicates an even deeper concept of shalom – one in which there is such right-balance among all creatures that:


When I first get up each morning, I glance through the news on my iPad while my tea is steeping. It’s a bad habit that I have trouble resisting because I want to make sure the world is all in one piece before I really start my day.

And, you know what? It never is. It’s a mess – with people shot, carjacked and bombed; with puppies abandoned, idiots in government, and tornadoes all over the place. There is little or no peace typed across the top of CNN.


The morning news is never going to blast the headline:
A shoot has sprung from the Jesse’s root! 
God’s spirit rests on him!

See, here’s the thing. This “Jesse news” is what we are meant to set our mornings by, to set our lives by – because we are people of faith, and we have been taught the true meaning of “shalom”. Shalom is something that will never be found in our “apparent” world. Shalom is only to be found within each of us who live the promise of Isaiah fulfilled in Jesus.


Advent is about pondering how to live “shalom” in an often corrupt world. It is a time to ask ourselves if we really believe the Promise to which Advent points:

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.

Isaiah 11:1-4

While acknowledging the often leaden toxicity of our culture, our redeemed hearts will not be caught in it. We will live by and in the Promised Light because we understand that Isaiah’s “Day” started this morning when we decided to pray. We will live in the beautiful world that both has felt and yet awaits the touch of an Incarnate God.


Poetry: A World of Light – Elizabeth Jennings

Yes when the dark withdrew I suffered light
And saw the candles heave beneath the wax,
I watched the shadow of my old self dwindle
As softly on my recollection stole
A mood the senses could not touch or damage,
A sense of peace beyond the breathing word.
Day dawdled at my elbow. It was night
Within. I saw my hands, their soft dark backs
Keeping me from the noise outside. The candle
Seemed snuffed into a deep and silent pool:
It drew no shadow round my constant image
For in a dazzling dark my spirit stirred.
But still I questioned it. My inward sight
Still knew the senses and the senses' tracks,
I felt my flesh and clothes, a rubbing sandal,
And distant voices wishing to console.
My mind was keen to understand and rummage
To find assurance in the sounds I heard.
Then senses ceased and thoughts were driven quite
Away(no act of mine). I could relax
And feel a fire no earnest prayer can kindle;
Old parts of peace dissolved into a whole
And like a bright thing proud in its new plumage
My mind was keen as an attentive bird.
Yes fire, light, air, birds, wax, the sun's own height
I draw from now, but every image breaks.
Only a child's simplicity can handle
Such moments when the hottest fire feels cool,
And every breath is like a sudden homage
To peace that penetrates and is no

Music: Beautiful World – Louis Armstrong

At Once, He Believed!

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle
November 29, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/113022.cfm

Rom 10_17 Andrew

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew, the brother of Peter, also a fisherman, a beloved Apostle and friend of Jesus.

Our Gospel tells the story of Andrew’s call. The spontaneity of Andrew and Peter’s response to Jesus is stunning and deeply inspiring!

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:18-20

Another favorite passage about Andrew is when he points out to Jesus that, in the famished crowd, there is a young boy with five loaves and two fish.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip,
 “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 
He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages
to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 
 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” 

John 6: 5-10

How simple and complete was Andrew’s faith! Those seven little items must have seemed so minute among 5000. Can you picture Andrew looking into Jesus’s eyes as if to say, “I know it’s not much but you can do anything!” Maybe it was that one devoted look which prompted Jesus to perform this amazing miracle!


We trust that our deep devotion and faith can move God’s heart too. On this feast of St. Andrew, many people begin a prayer which carries them through to Christmas. Praying it, we ask for particular favors from God.

I love this prayer because it was taught to me by my mother, a woman blessed with simple faith like Andrew’s. As I recite it, I ask to be gifted with the same kind of faith.

( Another reason I love it is this: how often in life do you get a chance to say a word like “vouchsafe“! )

St. Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
in which the Son of God was born

of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God,
to hear my prayer and grant my desires
through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ,
and of His blessed Mother. Amen.


Like the hungry five thousand.
our hurting world needs sustenance and healing.
Let’s fold our Advent prayers around its many wounds,
asking God for miracles
with a simple faith like Andrew’s.

Poetry: St. Andrew’s Day – John Keble

In this thought-provoking poem, the poet uses Andrew’s and Peter’s relationship to reflect on the meaning of being true brothers (and of course SISTERS).

When brothers part for manhood's race,
What gift may most endearing prove
To keep fond memory its her place,
And certify a brother's love?
'Tis true, bright hours together told,
And blissful dreams in secret shared,
Serene or solemn, gay or bold,
Shall last in fancy unimpaired.
E'en round the death-bed of the good
Such dear remembrances will hover,
And haunt us with no vexing mood
When all the cares of earth are over.

But yet our craving spirits feel,
We shall live on, though Fancy die,
And seek a surer pledge-a seal
Of love to last eternally.
Who art thou, that wouldst grave thy name
Thus deeply in a brother's heart?
Look on this saint, and learn to frame
Thy love-charm with true Christian art.
First seek thy Saviour out, and dwell
Beneath this shadow of His roof,
Till thou have scanned His features well,
And known Him for the Christ by proof;
Such proof as they are sure to find
Who spend with Him their happy days,
Clean hands, and a self-ruling mind
Ever in tune for love and praise.
Then, potent with the spell of Heaven,
Go, and thine erring brother gain,
Entice him home to be forgiven,
Till he, too, see his Savior plain..
Or, if before thee in the race,
Urge him with thine advancing tread,
Till, like twin stars, with even pace,
Each lucid course be duly aped.
No fading frail memorial give
To soothe his soul when thou art gone,
But wreaths of hope for aye to live,
And thoughts of good together done.
That so, before the judgment-seat,
Though changed and glorified each face,
Not unremembered ye may meet
For endless ages to embrace.

Music:  Hear my prayer, O Lord is an eight-part choral anthem by the English composer Henry Purcell (1659–1695). The anthem is a setting of the first verse of Psalm 102 in the version of the Book of Common Prayer. Purcell composed it c. 1682 at the beginning of his tenure as Organist and Master of the Choristers for Westminster Abbey.

That Day Is Today!

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
November 29, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah greets us once again with the inspiring phrase, “On that day …”

That day … the one whose dawning we are all awaiting, when all shall be complete and well in God:

There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

Isaiah 11:9

How will we know when that day has come? Will it be dramatically different from today or yesterday? Will time have paused and the world be turned upside down? 

Or will it simply be that in my heart – right here and now – a “new day” has dawned?


Isaiah indicates that the “new day” is potentially present in the day we have, that when we see experience through God’s eyes, the stagnated stump of our lives blossoms in sacred possibility. 

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

Isaiah 11: 1

What a glorious description Isaiah offers us of the world transformed by the longed-for Messiah, that shoot which shall sprout from the stump of Jesse:


The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Isaiah 11:2-5

As we pray these magnificent words this morning, we should let them thrill us with the truth that the “new day” has come! Indeed, since Christ has transformed us through his Incarnation, that “new day” dawns through us when we choose to live our lives impelled by its graces.


In our Gospel, Jesus says we can live in that divine possibility simply by trusting God the way a child trusts.

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike. 
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. 
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. 
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Luke 10:21-22

Let’s know and believe that Jesus turns to us as well as we pray today’s Gospel:

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Luke 10:23-24

Poetry: Advent Good Wishes – David Grieve

I found this poem in a book by one of my favorite poets, Malcolm Guite. It’s a great book for Advent if you are interested.

Give you joy, wolf, 
when Messiah makes you meek 
and turns your roar into a cry that 
justice has been done for the poor. 
Give you joy, lamb, 
when Messiah saves you from jeopardy  
and all fear is overwhelmed 
by his converting grace. 
Give you joy, wolf and lamb together, 
as Messiah brings worldwide peace 
and, side by side, you shelter  
under Jesse’s spreading shoot.

Music: Memory – Trevor Nunn / Thomas Stearns Eliot / Andrew Lloyd-webber / Otto Eckelmann

In this beautiful song from Cats, the writers tap some of the same feelings Isaiah calls up – acknowledgement of the night, hope for the morning, and trust that “that new day” can begin.

Face to Face

Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 26, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we come to the end of our readings from Revelation.  ( I can hear a few of you muttering, “Thank goodness!”) They have been challenging, to say the least.

The passage from Luke’s Gospel today is just as confronting.  God is serious about wanting our complete love!


Our prayer over these past few days has led us to deeper understanding of a challenging truth: life as we know it will be transformed and we will be judged at the transformation.

But hopefully our reflections have also assured us that the Master and Judge of Life is the same merciful God who forgave and healed the sinful and suffering.

By our faithfulness to this merciful God, we will be redeemed. Revelation puts it this way:

The servants of God
will look upon God’s face,
and God’s name
will be on their foreheads.


When a person is filled with goodness (or evil), we often say it is “written all over her face”.  So it is with those who love and long for God and for God’s peaceable kingdom.

God will recognize us at the judgment because our hope and desire for God are written all over our face. And God’s love for us will be written all over that Divine Countenance as we see it clearly for the first time! And once more, as Catherine McAuley might say, “Oh what a joy, even to think of it!”


Poetry: In Memoriam A.H.H. – Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was the Poet Laureate of England during much of Queen Victoria’s reign. A number of phrases from Tennyson’s work have become commonplace in the English language, including “Nature, red in tooth and claw” (“In Memoriam A.H.H.”), “‘Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all”, “Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die”, “My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure”, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, “Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers”, and “The old order changeth, yielding place to new”. He is the ninth most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

Below is the first section of the poem. It is a requiem for the poet’s beloved Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly, aged 22. It contains some of Tennyson’s most accomplished lyrical work, and is an unusually sustained exercise in lyric verse. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest poems of the 19th century. (Wikipedia)

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
   Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
   By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
   Thou madest Life in man and brute;
   Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
   The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
   Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
   They have their day and cease to be:
   They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
   For knowledge is of things we see
   And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
   But more of reverence in us dwell;
   That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
   We mock thee when we do not fear:
   But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem'd my sin in me;
   What seem'd my worth since I began;
   For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
   Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
   I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
   Confusions of a wasted youth;
   Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

If you would like to read the entire poem, follow this link:

https://poets.org/poem/memoriam-h-h


Music: The Face of God – Karen Drucker

The Wish to Climb

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
November 15, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111522.cfm

Today in God’s Lavish Mercy, the author of Revelation says some pretty tough stuff in the name of God!

To the Church at Sardis:
You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

To the Church at Laodicea:
Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of my mouth.

As most of us know from experience, it’s never really easy to accept negative feedback.  But, couched in gentle, encouraging tones, it can be accepted and acted on. John of Patmos, author of Revelation, missed that lesson in coaching techniques! 

How effective his words were with the under-performing churches is a matter left to history. For us, they may perhaps inspire us to be more honest with ourselves regarding our vitality and ardor for the Gospel.


zaccheus

In our Gospel, Jesus takes a different approach to inspire repentance and commitment. His inclusive, forgiving words to Zaccheus proved very effective.  Jesus doesn’t even address any shortcomings (not to make a pun) in Zaccheus.

He simply says, “Come down from your tree.  I’m coming to your house for dinner.” In other words, I’m coming into your life — now what’s your response?

Zaccheus is radically changed by Jesus’s lavish mercy. He responds,

“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”

Today, we pray to have a simple, trusting faith. Sometimes, like Zaccheus, we get ourselves “up a tree”, all twisted and stretching to find God – or maybe to ignore God – in our lives. And all the time, God has been walking straight down the path of our heart, smiling at our efforts, planning to stay with us tonight, tomorrow and forever.


Poetry: AND HAVE YOU ALSO WISHED – Leonard Nathan (1924 – 2007) an American poet, critic, and professor emeritus of rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Among other honors, he received the National Institute of Arts and Letters prize for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Phelan Award for Narrative Poetry.

And have you also wished to leave the world
of unforgiving surface and hard time,
to enter mist and climb an autumn slope,
becoming all but invisible below
a gray and dripping baldachin of boughs
that lead to the little clearing in the woods
where much will be revealed, what love and dreams
had promised before you woke and had to leave?
And have you, even as you wished this all,
passionately wished it, nevertheless continued
in the old direction, stretching out
and out to dust, foregone and trampled flat,
because you were told to once or because—who knows—
you said you would, or something shallow as that?

Music: Zaccheus – Medical Mission Sisters:

The Divine Adventure

Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
November 14, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111422.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we earnestly begin the Book of Revelation. These twelve days of passages will close out the liturgical year before Advent.

Rev 2_4 first love

The Book of Revelation, also commonly known as the Apocalypse, is one of the most controversial in the Bible. Scholars disagree as to its author, its meaning, its literary genre and even its place in the biblical canon.

Wherever we might fall in this spectrum of interpretations, the book still can inspire us to prayer and reflection.

In today’s passage, the author addresses the first of seven churches to whom he will write – the church at Ephesus. He praises them and says that God is pleased with their work, their endurance and their fidelity. That must have made them feel pretty good, right?

But then, the heart-breaking line:

Yet I hold this against you:
you have lost the love you had at first.

We might easily find ourselves in this passage. We’re trying hard to be faithful Christians. But, depending on where we are in our lives, have we lost that first fervor?

The continual grind of work, ministry, family and community responsibility can dim that first fire. Maybe the fresh flower has been choked in the daily weeds. Just the accumulation of years may obscure it. Just the unnoticed indifference within and around us can smother the love that once propelled us to choose God as our Everything.


Perhaps with the blind person in our Gospel, we might beg God to let us see where our faith has become dim or even blinded:

The people walking in front rebuked the blind man,
telling him to be silent,
but he kept calling out all the more,
“Son of David, have pity on me!”
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him;
and when he came near, Jesus asked him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”

Luke 18:39-42

Today, let’s try to remember that first love which turned our hearts to God and to God’s work in the world. Let’s ask our generous God, Who longs for our love, to renew our passion and energy for the Divine Adventure.


Poetry: Consumed in Grace – Catherine of Siena

This poem is from a wonderful book which I highly recommend to you:

I first saw God when I was a child, six years of age.
The cheeks of the sun were pale before Him,
and the earth acted as a shy
girl, like me. 

Divine light entered my heart from His love
that did never fully wane, 

though indeed, dear, I can understand how a person’s
faith can at times flicker, 

for what is the mind to do
with something that becomes the mind’s ruin:
a God that consumes us
in His grace.

I have seen what you want;
it is there,
a Beloved of infinite
tenderness.

Music: Power of Your Love – Hillsongs

 Renee Yann, RSM  Disciples

The End Times

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 13, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings carry the full flavor of the “end times” warnings, those repeated annually as we move closer to Advent (which is only two weeks away!) When I was a kid, these readings scared me. And now, even as an elder, I’m not particularly in love with them!

But, nevertheless, you gotta’ love Malachi! What a powerful poet! His message of impending judgement and necessary repentance definitely hits the mark.

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
 when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble…

Malachi 3:19

Wow! Really? Depending on where we stand in our moral life, our reaction to this announcement might range from:

Good! Go get ‘em, God!” 

to

Oh, dear God, I hope it’s not me!!!”.


Nobody wants to be “stubble” when the final fires blaze. So how can we avoid that? Paul resets us on the right track, from both “cheer” and “fear” to commitment. He instructs his readers to do their job, living and honest simple lives. He says something like this:

Listen! You must imitate your teachers in Christ.
Live with integrity, justice and generous mercy.
Navigate the world with these as your compass.
Then you will welcome the end times.


Lk21_19 perseverance

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus offers an equally dire prediction of the end times. When we read the list of disasters and betrayals Jesus describes, we must admit that every one of them occurs somewhere in our world everyday. In essence, we already live in the “end times”, trying to welcome and foster Divine Grace in our piece of the universe.


Photo by Stas Knop on Pexels.com

Today’s readings are an alarm clock. They call us to recognize the geopolitical world we live in as the emerging Realm of God, and to do our part to bring that realm to full realization.

It is likely impossible to communicate God’s vision for the world in the language of politics.  Scripture offers us the transcendent gift of the eloquent prophets Malachi and Jesus describing not only their own times but ours as well.


Walter Brueggemann says this:

The prophet’s task is to imagine the world as though Yahweh, the God of Israel and the creator of heaven and earth, were a real character and a lively agent in the life of the world.  I believe that such a claim, then and now, has to be articulated poetically in order not to be co-opted by political absolutism or theological orthodoxy.

Our readings today give us this poetic vision and challenge. Read them with great longing to hear God’s voice for our times. The world so sorely needs the answer that will blossom by the perseverance of our lives.


Poetry: A Song on the End of the WorldCzeslaw Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz ranks among the most respected figures in 20th-century Polish literature, as well as one of the most respected contemporary poets in the world: he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980. 

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Warsaw, 1944


Music:  Let Justice Roll – video of the Salvation Army

Called by Name

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 30, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/103022.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have three wonderful readings to enrich our prayer.

In our passage from Wisdom, we can picture the pray-er sitting down with God to express admiration, thanks and love.

Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance
 or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
 But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
 and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.
 For you love all things that are
 and loathe nothing that you have made;
 for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul prays a beautiful blessing over the community – a blessing which, by grace, transcends through time to us:

We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith,
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ. 

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus meets a height-challenged scribe who is intensely interested in seeing the rumored Messiah:

Zaccheus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.” 

Notice that Jesus doesn’t just wave or look at Zacchaeus with a wry smile at his perch. Jesus incorporates Zacchaeus into the embrace of salvation.As Wisdom says, Jesus “loves all things that are..” And as Paul says, “powerfully brings to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith…”


I think there are times in every life when we need to stretch to find God. We may need to climb faith’s tree and dangle over the confusions of life in the hope of grasping grace. Friends, all of us, no matter how tall we might be, have been Zaccheaus! Am I right? When we are, let”s listen for the One Who calls our name!


Poetry: Zacchaeus – George Macdonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet and Christian minister. He was a pioneering figure in the field of modern fantasy literature and the mentor of fellow writer Lewis Carroll. 

To whom the heavy burden clings,
It yet may serve him like a staff;
One day the cross will break in wings,
The sinner laugh a holy laugh.

The dwarfed Zacchaeus climbed a tree,
His humble stature set him high;
The Lord the little man did see
Who sought the great man passing by.

Up to the tree he came, and stopped:
“To-day,” he said, “with thee I bide.”
spirit-shaken fruit he dropped,
Ripe for the Master, at his side.

Sure never host with gladder look
A welcome guest home with him bore!
Then rose the Satan of rebuke
And loudly spake beside the door:

“This is no place for holy feet;
Sinners should house and eat alone!
This man sits in the stranger‘s seat
And grinds the faces of his own!”

Outspoke the man, in Truth‘s own might:
“Lord, half my goods I give the poor;
If one I’ve taken more than right
With four I make atonement sure!”

Salvation here is entered in;
This man indeed is Abraham’s son!”
Said he who came the lost to win-
And saved the lost whom he had won.


Music: He Called Me by My Name – Fr. Christopher Cuelho, OFM

Though Fig Tree Bear No Fruit

Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary time
October 22, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/102222.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are not reassuring. They basically tell us that it’s a tough world out there, and it might get us – body and/or soul. They tell us to straighten up and live right before it’s too late!

Lk 13_7 fig tree

I don’t really like the “in your face” readings, but they certainly are clear and effective. Just picture that poor fig tree, trying like crazy – for three years – to bear fruit! I know that I’ve been trying my whole life to overcome some of my fruitlessness. I certainly hope God continues to be patient with me!

Nevertheless, the message of today’s Gospel is clear. Don’t take that patience for granted. Repent of any small godlessness you’re clinging to.

  • Forgive the recent and long ago hurts you’ve locked up inside.
  • Make amends for any meannesses you can remember.
  • “Show and Tell” your love to the people who love you.
  • Show and Tell your blessing to the people who don’t.
  • Be Mercy every time you get a chance.

Paul says it like this: Live the truth in love.

Let’s do it while we can.


Poetry: Joy and Peace in Believing – William Cowper (1731-1800) was an English poet and Anglican hymnwriter. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetrySamuel Taylor Coleridge called him “the best modern poet”, whilst William Wordsworth particularly admired his poem Yardley-Oak. (Wikipedia)

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing on His wings;
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.
In holy contemplation We sweetly then pursue The theme of God's salvation, And find it ever new; Set free from present sorrow, We cheerfully can say, E'en let the unknown to-morrow Bring with it what it may! It can bring with it nothing, But He will bear us through; Who gives the lilies clothing, Will clothe His people too; Beneath the spreading heavens No creature but is fed; And He who feeds the ravens Will give His children bread.
Though vine nor fig tree neither Their wonted fruit shall bear, Though all the field should wither, Nor flocks nor herds be there: Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice; For, while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.

Music: Amazing Grace ~ sung by Sean Clive

Turn Toward Grace

Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church
September 30, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/093022.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus castigates the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and even his beloved Capernaum for their lack of faith.

In these Galilean villages, nearby to his own hometown, Jesus has performed many of his miracles and cures. These people have been the audience for his most memorable sermons. But now, Jesus begins to meet resistance and doubt as his disciples assume greater participation in his ministry. 

Lk10_13 Chorazin

Jesus is preparing for the time when he will no longer be here. He wants to see strong faith in his followers, but he is disappointed. He tells the crowds that they will regret their hard-heartedness, their slowness of conversion. They will be more harshly judged because they failed to respond to more abundant graces.


This passage is filled with spiritual lessons. We, too, have received so many blessings from God. How have we responded? 

It is a sad thing to look back on any part of our lives with regret – to say, “I wish I had…” or “I wish I hadn’t”. The only benefit of such sadness is to learn a lesson for our future.


Let’s pray today to live ever more intentional lives – giving ourselves time to recognize and respond to our blessings, to the needs of others, and to the deepening call of faith within our spirits.

May this prayer help us turn our spirits from any crippling self-interest and lukewarm faith to a dynamic, life-giving spirituality. As our responsorial psalm today encourages us: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”


Poetry: Little Summer Poem Touching The Subject Of Faith by Mary Oliver

Every summer
I listen and look 
under the sun's brass and even
into the moonlight, but I can't hear
anything, I can't see anything -- 
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green 
stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,
nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,
the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker -- 
green gowns lofting up in the night,
showered with silk. 
And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing -- 
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves, 
the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet -- 
all of it
happening
beyond any seeable proof, or hearable hum. 
And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in the dirt
swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear? 
One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn's beautiful body
is sure to be there.

Music: I Can Hear Your Voice ~ Michael W. Smith