Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

April 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34, an exultation in our God who protects and delivers us from harm:

The angel of the LORD encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
    blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8-9

Why is it that the Sadducees and Pharisees, as told in our first reading, so strongly resisted the gift of spiritual freedom and life?

We get used to our ways, don’t we? We get stuck in our compensations. We can even reach a point of comfort with things that sap and lessen us – that keep us from being our best selves – as long as we can maintain even a false sense of security and control.

This is what happened to the Pharisees and Sadducees. If they now accepted Jesus, their whole pretend world of domination and abusive power, a world in which they were very comfortable, would be turned upside down!

So they chose not to believe in Love. 

They tried to lock up the call to mercy and justice. They tried to chain Grace in a dungeon. They tried to stifle the cry of the poor so that the Lord wouldn’t hear! 


But, despite their blind efforts, the truth of Psalm 34 endures:

Come, children,listen to me;
I will teach you fear of the LORD.
Who is the man who delights in life,
who loves to see the good days?
Keep your tongue from evil,
your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are directed toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.

Psalm 34: 12-16

In our Gospel, Jesus gently but firmly teaches Nicodemus that our choice to believe matters:

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

John 3:16-20

Prose Poetry: from an interview with Ilia Dileo Ilia Delio, a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC. She holds the Josephine C Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University, and is he author of seventeen books, several of which have won awards.

You know, love is always a little tipsy.
If you’re really ecstatically in love, 
you are always a little bit falling over yourself 
and God is that.
God is the absolute being in love 
and always a little tipsy, 
falling over God’s self to share that love with an other. 
That dynamic engagement of God 
in the personal beingness of life, 
in the person of Jesus Christ -
if we bring in Jesus as that fullest manifestation of God’s love
in our own lives.
This is right from Pseudo-Dionysius, the 5th century writer 
who spoke of God as being superly drunk, drunk with love. 
That’s the kind of God we are dealing with here. 
Not some kind of the philosopher God, 
not the mechanical God, not a self-thinking, thought God…
This is a God who is drunk with love. 
Spilling over in love for us. 
And that’s what we are called to be. 
As image of God we are to be drunk with love, 
spilling over in our lives to be love in relation to another.
Every thing that exists, 
every person, every being, every creature 
every star, every lepton, every little cell
is a little word of the word of God...
God speaking that divine word of love 
throughout the rich variety of creation.

Music: God So Loved the World

God so loved the world

So loved the world

So loved the world

That He gave His only son

That He gave His only son

God so loved the world

That everyone who would believe

Who believed in His only son

Shall have everlasting life

For God sent not his son into the world

To condemn the world

But God so loved the world

That through His son the world might be saved

The world might be saved (the world might be saved)

The world might be saved

God so loved the world (so loved)

So loved the world (so loved)

So loved the world (that He)

That He gave His only son (only son)

That He gave His only son (only son)

That everyone who would believe (believe)

Believe in Him

Who would believe in Him

Would have everlasting life

Would have everlasting

Life (everlasting life)

Tuesday of the Second Week of Easter

April 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 93, a resounding song of praise to our majestic God.

As I read the whole psalm, which is brief, I find myself standing at the Atlantic’s edge with my mother. I was just old enough to appreciate the enormity of the ocean. I asked Mom what made the waves stop at our tiptoes. She told me that God held it in place like soup in a big bowl. I remember being glad that God was in charge because the waves seemed awesome to me.



A little personal distraction: My grand-nephews enjoying the ever-awesome ocean



Today’s psalmist seems to share some of these young feelings:

The flood has raised up, LORD;
the flood has raised up its roar;
the flood has raised its pounding waves.

More powerful than the roar of many waters,
more powerful than the breakers of the sea,
powerful in the heavens is the LORD.

Psalm 93:4-5

Set between today’s two readings, our psalm invites us to entrust ourselves completely to this all-powerful God whose merciful rule goes infinitely beyond earth’s seas.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“‘You must be born from above.’
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Dear, questioning Nicodemus struggled a bit to open his heart in complete faith. But he stayed with the struggle until the power of the Resurrection transformed him.


As we pray Psalm 93, we might stand with the psalmist or with Nicodemus at the edge of any ocean which challenges, mystifies, delights or frightens us. May we grow in confidence, as they did, that our eternal, omnipotent God ever reigns with merciful love – over the vastness of Creation and the small intimate waves of our lives.

Your decrees are firmly established;
holiness befits your house, LORD,
for all the length of days.

Psalm 93:5

Poetry: A Hymn – Ann Brontë

Eternal power of earth and air,
Unseen, yet seen in all around,
Remote, but dwelling everywhere,
Though silent, heard in every sound. 

If e'er thine ear in mercy bent
When wretched mortals cried to thee,
And if indeed thy Son was sent
To save lost sinners such as me. 

Then hear me now, while kneeling here;
I lift to thee my heart and eye
And all my soul ascends in prayer;
O give me -­ give me Faith I cry. 

Without some glimmering in my heart,
I could not raise this fervent prayer;
But O a stronger light impart,
And in thy mercy fix it there! 

While Faith is with me I am blest;
It turns my darkest night to day;
But while I clasp it to my breast
I often feel it slide away. 

Then cold and dark my spirit sinks,
To see my light of life depart,
And every fiend of Hell methinks
Enjoys the anguish of my heart. 

What shall I do if all my love,
My hopes, my toil, are cast away,
And if there be no God above
To hear and bless me when I pray? 

If this be vain delusion all,
If death be an eternal sleep,
And none can hear my secret call,
Or see the silent tears I weep. 

O help me God! for thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not -- it is thine own,
Though weak yet longing to believe. 

O drive these cruel doubts away
And make me know that thou art God;
A Faith that shines by night and day
Will lighten every earthly load. 

If I believe that Jesus died
And waking rose to reign above,
Then surely Sorrow, Sin and Pride
Must yield to peace and hope and love. 

And all the blessed words he said
Will strength and holy joy impart,
A shield of safety o'er my head,
A spring of comfort in my heart.

Music: Here Is Love, Vast as an Ocean, beautifully sung by Huw Priday, first in Welsh then in English.

The text of this hymn was originally in Welsh, “Dyma gariad fel y moroedd,” written by William Rees (1802–1883, also known as Gwilym Hiraethog). By one account, Rees was “one of the most versatile and gifted Welshmen of the nineteenth century and exercised a powerful influence on politics, religion, poetry, and literature in Wales.”

Rees’ text played a prominent role in the Welsh revival of 1904–1905, led by evangelist Evan Roberts (1878–1951) of Glamorganshire. As with any great evangelistic movement, its success was closely associated with music and musicians. 

VERSE 1 

Here is love vast as the ocean, 

Loving-kindness as the flood, 

When the Prince of Life, our ransom, 

Shed for us His precious blood. 

Who His love will not remember? 

Who can cease to sing His praise? 

He can never be forgotten 

Throughout heav’n’s eternal days. 

VERSE 2 

On the Mount of Crucifixion, 

Fountains opened deep and wide; 

Through the flood-gates of God’s mercy 

Flowed a vast and gracious tide. 

Grace and love like mighty rivers 

Poured incessant from above; 

Heaven’s peace and perfect justice 

Kissed a guilty world in love. 

VERSE 3 

Here is love that conquered evil: 

Christ, the firstborn from the grave; 

Death has failed to be found equal 

To the life of Him Who saves. 

In the valley of our darkness 

Dawned His everlasting light; 

Perfect love in glorious radiance 

Has repelled death’s hellish night. 

VERSE 4 

That same love beyond all measure, 

Mocked and slain by hateful men, 

Lives and reigns in resurrection 

And can never die again. 

Here is love for all the ages, 

Radiant Sun of Heav’n He stands, 

Calling home His Father’s children, 

Holding forth His wounded hands. 

VERSE 5 

Here is love, vast as the heavens; 

Countless as the stars above 

Are the souls that He has ransomed, 

Precious daughters, treasured sons. 

We are called to feast forever on a love beyond our time; 

Glorious Father, Son, and Spirit 

Now with man are intertwined.

Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday of Divine Mercy

April 11, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 118 which ties together our other readings in a celebration of confirmed faith:

  • Christ IS risen
  • He has been SEEN even by one with severest doubts
  • the community IS RESPONDING wholeheartedly to the Easter mission

The stone which the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
    let us be glad and rejoice in it.

Psalm 118

For the early Church, which comes alive in today’s readings, faith and experience have been “married”. These are early “honeymoon days” for a young faith community where Jesus might still pop up any minute by a charcoal fire or in a locked Upper Room.

These are days of heady enthusiasm where everything seems possible in the healing tenderness of five transfigured wounds.

The Incredulity of St. Thomas – Caravaggio

Last week, I offered a staff presentation during which we discussed the blocks to effective communication – poor planning, noise, cultural differences, assumptions, etc. But I think of one block in particular this morning.

Time and Distance

The farther we are from the original message the more likely we might lose its full power and truth.

Think of that childhood game, “Whisper Down the Lane”. As the original message traveled along the long line of squirming children, it repeatedly morphed into its multiple distortions.


Our readings today enjoin us to take care that such distortion never weakens our Easter Truth: Jesus Christ is risen and lives in us, the faith community.

… whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

As Jesus describes us in today’s Gospel, we are the ones “who have not SEEN”. Still, we long for the blessing that comes from our unseeing fidelity:

You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me.
Blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!

Let us pray for one another, the whole faith community. As the Easter Word passes down through the ages and out over the earth, may it stay fully alive in our faithful love and active mercy:

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.


Poem:

St. Thomas Didymus by Denise Levertov

In the hot street at noon I saw him
a small man
gray but vivid, standing forth
beyond the crowd’s buzzing
holding in desperate grip his shaking
teethgnashing son,

and thought him my brother.

I heard him cry out, weeping and speak
those words,
Lord, I believe, help thou
mine unbelief,

and knew him
my twin:

a man whose entire being
had knotted itself
into the one tightdrawn question,
Why,
why has this child lost his childhood in suffering,
why is this child who will soon be a man
tormented, torn, twisted?
Why is he cruelly punished
who has done nothing except be born?

The twin of my birth
was not so close
as that man I heard
say what my heart
sighed with each beat, my breath silently
cried in and out,
in and out.

After the healing,
he, with his wondering
newly peaceful boy, receded;
no one
dwells on the gratitude, the astonished joy,
the swift
acceptance and forgetting.
I did not follow
to see their changed lives.
What I retained
was the flash of kinship.
Despite
all that I witnessed,
his question remained
my question, throbbed like a stealthy cancer,
known
only to doctor and patient. To others
I seemed well enough.

So it was
that after Golgotha
my spirit in secret
lurched in the same convulsed writhings
that tore that child
before he was healed.
And after the empty tomb
when they told me that He lived, had spoken to Magdalen,
told me
that though He had passed through the door like a ghost
He had breathed on them
the breath of a living man —
even then
when hope tried with a flutter of wings
to lift me —
still, alone with myself,
my heavy cry was the same: Lord
I believe,
help thou mine unbelief.

I needed
blood to tell me the truth,
the touch
of blood. Even
my sight of the dark crust of it
round the nailholes
didn’t thrust its meaning all the way through
to that manifold knot in me
that willed to possess all knowledge,
refusing to loosen
unless that insistence won
the battle I fought with life

But when my hand
led by His hand’s firm clasp
entered the unhealed wound,
my fingers encountering
rib-bone and pulsing heat,
what I felt was not
scalding pain, shame for my
obstinate need,
but light, light streaming
into me, over me, filling the room
as I had lived till then
in a cold cave, and now
coming forth for the first time,
the knot that bound me unravelling,
I witnessed
all things quicken to color, to form,
my question
not answered but given
its part
in a vast unfolding design lit
by a risen sun.

Music: Thomas Song

Thomas’ Song – Hallal Music

Jesu you were all to me,
Why did you die on Calvary?
O Lamb of God, I fail to see
How this could be part of the plan.
They say that you’re alive again
But I saw death and every sin
Reach out to claim their darkest whim
How could this part if the plan?
If I could only
Hold your hand
And touch the scars
Where nail were driven,
I would need
To feel your side
Where holy flesh
A spear was riven,
Then I’d believe,
Only then I’d believe
Your cruel death
Was part of a heavenly plan.
Holy presence, holy face
A vision filling time and space
Your newness makes my spirit race
Could this be part of the plan?
I see the wounds that caused the cry
From heaven, ocean, earth, and sky
When people watched their savior die
Could this be part of the plan?
Reaching out
To hold your hand
And touch the scars
Where nails were driven
Coming near
I feel your side
Where holy flesh
A spear was riven
Now I believe
Jesus now I believe
Your cruel death
Was part of a heavenly plan
I proudly say
With blazen cry
You are my Lord and my God

Easter Wednesday

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

April 7, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 as the psalmist rejoices in seeking and being found by God.

Our scripture passages today invite us to walk:

  • beside one long crippled and amazed at unexpected healing
  • beside the psalmist and all who seek the Lord
  • beside the Emmaus disciples as they shed their confusion into the already present Light

The readings call us to deeper, more faith-filled journeys that

  • challenge our passively accepted inhibitions
  • appreciate the journey as part of the destination
  • open our eyes to Grace otherwise invisible to our unhopeful hearts

Poetry: excerpt from The Wasteland by T.S.Eliot

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me – The Vogues

Easter Tuesday: He Knows My Name

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

April 6, 2021

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni” 

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33 which connects two powerful readings from Acts and John’s Gospel.

Acts describes for us a gathered crowd which, upon Peter’s inspired preaching, become a repentant, converting community. Peter speaks a word that changes them. They are struck through to their core by the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice for them.

Now when they heard (Peter’s preaching),
they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”

Acts 2:37

In our Gospel, a bereaved Mary Magdalene’s heart is cut as well – with sorrow, confusion, and grief. But in that moment when Jesus simply speaks her name, she is awakened, healed, and energized.


What Word is it that our heart longs for today as we pray? What healing, light, and conversion do these readings hold for us as we open our hearts to Easter grace? 

We, too, like Peter’s congregation, have come to hear a Word that transforms us. We, too, like Mary have been waiting in Hope outside the tomb. As we pray today’s scriptures, let’s listen for our name.


Our soul waits for the LORD,
    who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
    who have put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20,22

Poetry: Say My Name – Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi

It is a good day to think about how important one’s name is to them, especially as it expresses our spiritual, familial and cultural rootedness. Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi is a proud Black/Indigenous, Pasifika and West Asian writer. She is from Murray (Mer) Island, from the Zagareb and Dauareb tribes.

My name was my name before
                            I walked among the living
               before I could breathe
               before I had lungs to fill
before my great grandmother passed
               and everyone was left to grieve

My name was birthed from a dream
               A whisper from gods to a king
               A shout into the stars that produced
                             another that shone as bright
They held me without being burnt, humming lullabies in pidgin

My name was passed down from my
               ancestors
They acknowledged my roots grew in two
               places
So, they ripped my name from the ocean
               and mixed it into the bloodlines of my totems

My name has survived the destruction of worlds
and the genocidal rebirthing of so-called ones
It’s escaped the overwhelmed jaw of the death bringer
               Many a time
It has survived the conflicts that resulted in my gods,
               from both lands, knowing me as kin,
but noticing that I am painfully unrecognisable and lost
They are incapable of understanding
               the foreign tongue that was forced on me

My name has escaped cyclones and their daughters
It has been blessed by the dead
As they mixed dirt, salt and liquid red,
               into my flesh
My name is the definition of resilience
It is a warrior that manifested because of warriors

So, excuse me as I roll my eyes or sigh as you
mispronounce my name
               over and over again
Or when you give me another
               that dishonours my mother and father
That doesn’t acknowledge my lineage to my island home
or the scents of rainforest and ocean foam
You will not stand here on stolen land
               and whitewash my name
For it is two words intertwined
               holding as much power as a hurricane
Say it right or don’t say it at all
For I am Meleika
               I will answer when you call


Music: You Know My Name – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

(You may come upon an ad in the middle of today’s music — because it is rather long. Just clip the “Skip Ads” after a few seconds and you’ll get back to the choir)

Psalm 51: Spring Cleaning

Fifth Sunday of Lent 

March 21, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 51, a psalm to inspire our spring soul-cleaning.

A clean heart create for me, O God,
    and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

Psalm 51:12

Happy Spring to all of you in the northern hemisphere! Blessings of new life and hope!

And for my southern friends already in your Autumn Season, blessings of change and release!


Psalm 51 can speak to our hearts in whatever season we find ourselves.

After our long winters, external or internal, we may call upon God for a fresh budding of our hearts:

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
    and a willing spirit sustain in me.

Psalm 51: 14-15

When bright summer wanes and vibrant trees speak of leave-taking, we may pray to remain in warmth and light:

Cast me not out from your presence,
    and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Psalm 51: 13

Across our hemispheres, we all share the longings of Lent to be cleared of all that blocks us from Grace in our lives – to have the hidden corners of our small selfishness swept, polished and ready for Loving Mercy:

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
    in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
    and of my sin cleanse me.

Psalm 51: 3-4
The Heart Cave

       I must remember
To go down to the heart cave
& sweep it clean; make it warm
with a fire on the hearth,
& candles in their niches,
the pictures on the walls
       glowing with a quiet light.

       I must remember
To go down to the heart cave
       & make the bed
with the quilt from home,
strew
       the rushes on the floor
                                  hang
lavender and sage
                      from the corners.

           I must go down
To the heart cave & be there
           when you come.

- by Geoffrey Brown

Today, as we might take a walk under the nearly budding trees, or over their first fallen leaves, let’s ask God to walk with us:

Lord, you  open my lips;
and my mouth to proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give it;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
What you want of me, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

Psalm 51: 17-19

I open my heart, O God, to your Heart.
Teach me Love.

Poetry: A Spring Poem – Luci Shaw

all the field praises Him/all
dandelions are His glory/gold
and silver/all trilliums unfold
white flames above their trinities
of leaves all wild strawberries
and massed wood violets reflects His skies’ 
clean blue and white
all brambles/all oxeyes
all stalks and stems lift to His light
all young windflower bells
tremble on hair
springs for His air’s
carillon touch/last year’s yarrow (raising
brittle star skeletons) tells
age is not past praising
all small low unknown
unnamed weeds show His impossible greens 
all grasses sing
tone on clear tone
all mosses spread a spring-
soft velvet for His feet
and by all means all leaves/buds/all flowers cup
jewels of fire and ice
holding up
to His kind morning heat
a silver sacrifice
now
make of our hearts a field 
to raise Your praise.

Music: I Come to the Garden Alone – C. Austin Miles

“In the Garden” ( – sometimes rendered by its first line “I Come to the Garden Alone”) is a gospel song written by American songwriter C. Austin Miles (1868–1946), a former pharmacist who served as editor and manager at Hall-Mack publishers for 37 years. According to Miles’ great-granddaughter, the song was written “in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in Pitman, New Jersey that didn’t even have a window in it let alone a view of a garden.” The song was first published in 1912 and popularized during the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaigns of the early twentieth century.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Psalm 51: I Desire Mercy

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

March 13, 2021


Hosea’s Warning

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 51 which, together with our other readings, tests the depths and sincerity of our prayer.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Psalm 51:12

Our readings today put this consideration before us:

What is prayer really,
and what is the quality of my prayer?


Hosea tells us

For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
    and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.


Luke tells us

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.


And our psalm tells us

For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
    should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
    a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.


To sum up our readings, here’s what prayer is NOT:

  • It is not a roll call of our sacrifices and righteousness.
  • It is not fasting, or paying tithes, or even keeping the commandments.

Then what is it?


Prayer is an intimate exchange with God
with whom we are humble, honest,
open, generous and grateful
– with Whom we are safe, confident and in love.

Prayer is our response to God
who desires our merciful hearts.
… so
Let us Pray.

Poetry: A Prayer from Teresa of Avila 

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, 
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, 
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Music: Peaceful Moments – Regi Stone

Psalm 25: Remember me?

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

March 9, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, a gentle call for God’s attention:

The tone of this very human prayer is this: “Pay attention to me, God!”
Think of a toddler peppering her parent – “Mommy, look! Daddy, watch!

That’s what Psalm 25 is – a peppering of God.🤗


It’s not exactly that we feel forgotten by God. We know that can never happen, right? But we want God to put aside everything that might be occupying the Divine Attention, turn around and focus on us, listen intently to our prayer.


Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
    and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
    because of your goodness, O LORD.


Praying with Psalm 25 might lead us to realize that it is not God who must remember, or pay attention. It is us! In our need, we must recall God’s long faithfulness to us and therefore TRUST that God is with us – always – in any current circumstance. We must pray to discover God present there.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
    teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my savior.


Poetry: Psalm 25 – Trust by Christine Robinson

I put my trust in you, O God, as best as I am able. 
   May I be strong. May I not be afraid
May all who open their hearts
  hear your voice and know your love.

Lead me, teach me, help me to trust.
You are gracious to us, O God
You guide us, you forgive our clumsy ways
You help us prosper.

When I am sad and anxious
  I school my heart to trust
I act with integrity and uprightness
  And hope to feel your touch in my heart.
May it be so for all the peoples of the earth
  Who call you by many names.

Music: Two selections today

  1. To You O Lord – Marty Haugen

2. For lovers of Bach, like me, you might enjoy this:

Psalm 25 – Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150 (For Thee, O Lord, I Long. Thought to be the earliest extant Cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach)

Here is a link to a great Bach website where I found some of my material for today.

Psalm 19: The Law

Third Sunday of Lent

March 7, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19.

Those of you who click through to our daily readings on the USCCB website may notice that two sets of readings are offered for this 3rd Sunday in Lent. The alternative set is for a Mass which incorporates “The Scrutinies”.

“The Scrutinies” are part of the process of admitting adults into the Catholic Church which typically takes place throughout Lent and culminates in Easter Baptism. 

There are several steps in the admission process beginning with discernment and in-depth education. The Scrutinies occur near the end, during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. As the name indicates, these exercises have us look deep into our hearts and souls for the healing and forgiveness we need in faith.


However, most of us attending this Sunday’s liturgy will hear the Year B readings which center on LAW and how our developing faith understands it.


For the ancient Israelites, as Exodus tells us, that understanding took the form of a specified discipline in the Ten Commandments.

For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, 
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness 
on the children of those who reproach me …

Exodus 20:5

In our second reading, Paul preaches a new understanding of Law – the Law of Sacrificial Love revealed in the sacred contradiction of Cross.

… but we proclaim Christ crucified, 
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, 
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1: 23-25

And in our Gospel, Jesus confronts those whose faith is hardened against the new Law which he embodies:

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 
many began to believe in his name 
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, 
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

John 2:23-25

Our psalm offers us an opportunity to “scrutinize” the sincerity of this prayer in our own hearts:


Poetry: As Kingfishers Catch Fire Gerard Manley Hopkins sees the law as acting in God’s eye…

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves–goes itself; _myself_ it speaks and spells,
Crying _Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is–
Chríst–for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Music: The Law of the Lord is Perfect

Psalm 31: The Plot

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

March 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 31 which expresses a pleading reflective of our first powerful reading from Jeremiah.

Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
… let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word.

Jeremiah 18:18

This verse (18:18) is the pivotal turning point where everything goes south for Jeremiah. The Israelite power structure really didn’t want to hear what Jeremiah was telling them. He pins their troubles – the destruction the Temple and Babylonian Captivity – on one thing: their faithlessness to the Covenant with Yahweh.


Jeremiah is an archetype of the condemned prophet whom we meet in Jesus. Today’s Gospel reveals the same pivotal turning point for Jesus:

We are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.

Matthew 20:18-19

They told the Truth – that we must continually discern God’s Word for our lives, always seeking love, mercy and justice. Few had the courage to listen. Most chose sinful resistance.

The suffering prophet has only one recourse when “hearing the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side, as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.” Psalm 31:14

That recourse is complete and trusting surrender to God. Psalm 31 reveals this surrender in a verse Jesus ultimately prays from the Cross:

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
    you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.

Psalm 31:6

Lent calls us to the message of Jeremiah and Jesus – to examine our lives in light of love, mercy and justice. Let us pray in the spirit of Jesus today to be open to Truth in our own lives and to build Truth in our communities.


Poetry: The Paradox by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The poem carries a tone similar to sorrowful Jeremiah’s poetry.

I am the mother of sorrows,
I am the ender of grief;
I am the bud and the blossom,
I am the late-falling leaf.

I am thy priest and thy poet,
I am thy serf and thy king;
I cure the tears of the heartsick,
When I come near they shall sing.

White are my hands as the snowdrop;
Swart are my fingers as clay;
Dark is my frown as the midnight,
Fair is my brow as the day.

Battle and war are my minions,
Doing my will as divine;
I am the calmer of passions,
Peace is a nursling of mine.

Speak to me gently or curse me,
Seek me or fly from my sight;
I am thy fool in the morning,
Thou art my slave in the night.

Down to the grave will I take thee,
Out from the noise of the strife;
Then shalt thou see me and know me–
Death, then, no longer, but life.

Then shalt thou sing at my coming.
Kiss me with passionate breath,
Clasp me and smile to have thought me
Aught save the foeman of Death.

Come to me, brother, when weary,
Come when thy lonely heart swells;
I ‘ll guide thy footsteps and lead thee
Down where the Dream Woman dwells.

Music: Symphony No.1 – Jeremiah by Leonard Bernstein 

Summary: an excellent introduction to this symphony

Entire Symphony: