Alleluia: God Loves to Talk with Us

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
June 27, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062722.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings dispense a serious dose of fire and brimstone! 

Beware, I will crush you into the ground
as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves.

Amos 2:13

Consider this, you who forget God,
lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you.

Psalm 50:22

Some of the prophets, and some preachers even now, have considered “F&B” an effective strategy to reach the hardened sinner. Even our sweet, gentle Jesus comes through tough in today’s Gospel:

Another of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But Jesus answered him, “Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead.”

Matthew 8:22

I’ve never been a fan of the hellfire approach to evangelization. I think it tends to raise a wall of fear around our hearts rather than invite a deep conversion.

Our Alleluia Verse helps me to cut through the sulfurous verbiage to the point that might actually change me: God wants to speak to me. Don’t be hard-hearted to God’s message.

Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.

That’s it. That’s the message. Today it’s wrapped in some blazing language but the core is the same.

A loving God wants to speak to me
in every moment of my life.


Poetry: excerpt from Dante’s Inferno

This passage from the epic poem focuses on the sin of indifference, not caring enough to be either bad or good. It made me think of a powerful verse from the Book of Revelation:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3: 15-16

And I — my head oppressed by horror — said:

“Master, what is it that I hear? Who are

those people so defeated by their pain?”

      And he to me: “This miserable way

is taken by the sorry souls of those

who lived without disgrace and without praise.

      They now commingle with the coward angels,

the company of those who were not rebels

nor faithful to their God, but stood apart.

      The heavens, that their beauty not be lessened,

have cast them out, nor will deep Hell receive them —

even the wicked cannot glory in them.” 

Dante Alighieri, Inferno

Music: De Profundis – Vasari Singers

Psalmus 129 (130)Psalm 129 (130)
1 De profundis clamavi ad te Domine1 Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord:
2 Domine exaudi vocem meam fiant aures tuae intendentes in vocem deprecationis meae2 Lord, hear my voice. Let thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
3 Si iniquitates observabis Domine Domine quis sustinebit3 If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.
4 Quia apud te propitiatio est propter legem tuam sustinui te Domine sustinuit anima mea in verbum eius4 For with thee there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of thy law, I have waited for thee, O Lord. My soul hath relied on his word:
5 Speravit anima mea in Domino5 my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
6 A custodia matutina usque ad noctem speret Israel in Domino6 From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
7 Quia apud Dominum misericordia et copiosa apud eum redemptio7 Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption.
8 Et ipse redimet Israel ex omnibus iniquitatibus eius8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
______________________

Alleluia: Speak, Lord!

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 26, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse suggests an amazing consideration- that the Almighty God responds to our human invitation!

Alleluia, alleluia.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

1 Sm 3:9; Jn 6:68


This humble, hopeful prayer encapsulates themes from each of today’s readings which all use the symbol of a yoke to illustrate their message.

Elisha, and the listeners to both Paul and Jesus understand what a yoke does. It ties the beast of burden to its task. It also ties the one who holds the reins and plow handle.

Although the symbols of ploughing and yoke may be less familiar to us, our readings instruct us that to truly hear God’s voice in our lives we must have a deep freedom from anything that burdens our spirits. How do we do that while living normal human lives with responsibilities, worries and frustrations?

Our verse today might offer us an answer. It all depends on how we perceive our daily lives. 

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Do we see our life only for itself with all the burdens it might put on us? Or do we see it as the sacred unfolding of an infinitely deeper life – everlasting life?

  • Elisha’s life was so much more than the field he had to plow that day!
  • The Galatians lives were so much more than the “biting” arguments that plagued them that day!
  • Jesus’s invitation to follow him is to so much more than the surface concerns of our lives.

Our life in Christ is a call to live in the deep stream of grace – to live “everlasting life” even within the limits of time’s circumstances.

Doing so changes us. It breaks the yoke that constricts our vision, our hope, our capacity for mercy. It allows us to invite God to speak and to hear God’s voice in our ordinary day. It strengthens us to live with extraordinary love and “everlasting “ grace.

Poetry: from T.S.Eliot’s Ash Wednesday 

I have taken a few lines from this long poem of Eliot’s. He wrote it in his later years. He expresses his continuing struggle with living a deep faith. After the excerpt, there is a link to the entire poem. I find Eliot not to be an easy poet, but oh is he ever worth the effort!

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent

If the unheard, unspoken

Word is unspoken, unheard;

Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,

The Word without a word, the Word within

The world and for the world;

And the light shone in darkness and

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled

About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word

Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence

Not on the sea or on the islands, not

On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,

For those who walk in darkness

Both in the day time and in the night time

The right time and the right place are not here

No place of grace for those who avoid the face

No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny

the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for

Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,

Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,

time and time, between

Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait

In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray

For children at the gate

Who will not go away and cannot pray:

Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender

Yew trees pray for those who offend her

And are terrified and cannot surrender

And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks

In the last desert before the last blue rocks

The desert in the garden the garden in the desert

Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/t__s__eliot/poems/15133


Music – I Can Hear Your Voice – Jean Watson, Michael W. Smith

Pentecost Sunday

June 5, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended to eternally enliven the Church.

We are that Church, living today in a world that sorely needs God’s renewing breath of life!


For today’s Responsorial Psalm, we pray with Psalm 104 – a fitting plea for this glorious Feast of Pentecost.

Lord, send out your Spirit, 
and renew the face of the earth.

It is a bold prayer, an extravagant request. It asks for everything – a Fire of Love so complete that the whole earth is remade in its Divine Power.

It is a prayer based in mutual invitation as, in the Sequence, we invite the Holy Spirit to renew us:

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Pentecost Sequence

And, as in any true relationship, the Spirit invites us too – to open our hearts to the infinite grace of this feast. The Book of Revelation describes this reciprocity in this profound passage:

“ I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Revelation 22: 16-17

On this Birthday of the Church, we pray not only for our own soul’s kindling, but for the whole People of God. May the Grace of Pentecost ignite a new fire of charity over all the earth. May that fire clear the way for the Spirit’s gifts to flower, for Her fruits to blossom, for Her power to surprise us as it bursts forth in our hearts!


Poetry: The Golden Sequence

Veni Sancte Spiritus, sometimes called the Golden Sequence, is a sequence prescribed in the Roman Liturgy for the Masses of Pentecost and its octave. It is usually attributed to either the thirteenth-century Pope Innocent III or to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Stephen Langton, although it has been attributed to others as well.

“Veni Sancte Spiritus” is one of only four medieval Sequences which were preserved in the Roman Missal published in 1570 following the Council of Trent (1545–63).

The other three occasions when we hear these beautiful ancient hymns are Easter Sunday (“Victimae Paschali Laudes”), Corpus Christi (“Lauda Sion Salvatorem”) and Our Lady of Sorrows (“Stabat Mater Dolorosa”). On Easter Sunday and Pentecost, the sequence must be sung, whereas on Corpus Christi and Our Lady of Sorrows, the sequence is optional.

Wikipedia

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
    Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
    Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
    Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
    Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
    And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
    Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
    Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
    Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
    In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
    Give them joys that never end. Amen.
    Alleluia.

Music: Veni Santé Spiritus – Chant of the Mystics

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 25, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul gives a magnificent oration at the Areopagus in Athens. It was a big deal billing!

V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)
St. Paul at the Areopagus by Raphael (c.1515)

Areopagus, earliest aristocratic council of ancient Athens. The name was taken from the Areopagus (“Ares’ Hill”), a low hill northwest of the Acropolis, which was its meeting place.

In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders of the city, similar to the Roman Senate. Like the Senate, its membership was restricted to those who had held high public office.

The Areopagus, like most city-state institutions, continued to function in Roman times, and it was from this location, drawing from the potential significance of the Athenian altar to the Unknown God that Paul is said to have delivered the famous speech, “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” (Wikipedia)


diamonds


The sermon has so many beautiful lines, like glorious diamonds that can be turned over and over in prayer. Here are a few that glistened for me:


God … does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands
(Instead, God dwells within us)


God is not served by human hands because God needs nothing.
(Instead, our everything comes from God)


God made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth.
(We are all connected in the One Creation)


God fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,
so that people might seek God,
even perhaps grope for him and find him,
though indeed he is not far from any one of us.
(We do grope, sometimes in darkness.)


God has overlooked the times of ignorance,
but now God demands that all people everywhere repent…
(Without Christ, we were in shadows of unknowing. With Christ, we are in Light.)


And my favorite:

Acts17_24 everything

What is the “everything” that God is giving you today? What is the abundance of grace, or hope, or longing in your heart as you pray today? Let God’s fullness embrace any emptiness as you offer God your silence and waiting.


Poetry: Everything – Rumi

Love is
when God says to you
"I have created everything for you",
and you say
"I have left everything for You."

Music: Everything – Lauren Daigle

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 19, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Acts allows us to sit in on an early Church “convention”. The dynamics are fascinating, as well as amazingly familiar.

The community is a-bustle with concerns. Paul and Barnabas have been out gathering Gentile converts to the faith. The Jewish Christian community back in Jerusalem feels that these new converts should be required to submit to circumcision as a sign of their conversion. Peter offers an intense, lucid, yet gentle argument to convince the Jerusalem community that this is not necessary.

God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?

Acts 15:8-10

James, who appears to have influence in the Jerusalem Church, backs Peter up by referring to the prophet Amos who promised the rebuilding of the faith community:

After this I shall return
                        and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
            from its ruins I shall rebuild it
                        and raise it up again,
            so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
                        even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
            Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
                        known from of old.

What a perfect reference to help convince the Jewish community that to be a Christian one did not have to also be a Jew nor follow the Old Law.

This passage helps us to be aware of our openness to new inspiration from the Holy Spirit not only in the Church but in our personal lives. God is the great “heart-reader” and knows when we are ready for growth and deepening. “Protecting” our faith with rituals and exercises that have lost meaning can be a way to avoid opening ourselves to conversion and spiritual transformation. The Holy Spirit invites us beyond such false securities:

And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.

Acts 15:8

In our Gospel, Jesus reminds us of all that we need to make our faith — and our joy — complete:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”

Poetry: Quench Your Heart’s Thirst – Hafiz

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one’s self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once
Trusted.

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love’s
Hands.

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!”


Music: CHANGE MY HEART, O GOD

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 18, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Acts reveals the tensions in the Church between Jewish and Gentile believers. For the Jews, the ritual of circumcision was a key expression of covenantal faith. Some felt it was necessary for Gentile converts to undergo the ritual in order to become Christians.

Which way is the right way?

Like all start-ups, the Church had many friction points which required decisions about what was essential and what was only customary. Those customs being thousands of years old, the decisions become even harder. Readings later this week describe more conflict points.

Nevertheless, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and despite the venerability of custom, the nascent Church was able embrace a new reality rooted in Christ’s inclusive love.

These kinds of philosophical and theological tugs-of-war have accompanied the Church down through history. Some of them have helped reveal deeper insights into our faith. But, as in all human communities, some of the tugs have been motivated by fear, greed, power, and other selfish interests.

Watching how the early Church handles their particular situation may give us hints about how we should handle them today.


In our Gospel, Jesus makes clear what is essential and inviolable to the faith:

I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.

John 15:1-2
John15_4 Remain

I think “Remain” is a beautiful word. In the dictionary, it will be defined as ‘stay’. But it connotes much more to me.  Re–main asks us not just to choose to stay with Jesus, but to choose it over and over – like reenlist, renew, recommit.

Remain means to endure with the Beloved Vine through every season – winter’s cold and summer’s heat, and all that’s in between.

Remain means “Love Me, stay beside me, even when others fall away.”

May we remain.


Poetry: The Vine – Malcolm Guite

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

How might it feel to be part of the vine?
Not just to see the vineyard from afar
Or even pluck the clusters, press the wine,
But to be grafted in, to feel the stir
Of inward sap that rises from our root,
Himself deep planted in the ground of Love,
To feel a leaf unfold a tender shoot,
As tendrils curled unfurl, as branches give
A little to the swelling of the grape,
In gradual perfection, round and full,
To bear within oneself the joy and hope
Of God’s good vintage, till it’s ripe and whole.
What might it mean to bide and to abide
In such rich love as makes the poor heart glad?


Music: I Am the Vine – John Michael Talbot

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 13, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul nearly completes his sermon in Pisidian Antioch.  In this section, he is very clear about the failure of “those in Jerusalem” to recognize the Messiah when He finally came.

280px-V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)
Paul Preaches by Raphael

Paul points out, however, that this very failure was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.

…by condemning him
they fulfilled the oracles of the prophets

that are read sabbath after sabbath.

Acts 13:27

These resistant religious leaders had spent their entire lives sifting through the Law and the Prophets looking for their savior. But when he finally stood in their midst, they were blind to him. Where had they gone wrong?


Thomas
Thomas has his doubts answered (16th C. icon)

In our Gospel, we have Thomas who is a little blinded himself. We know from other passages that Thomas is someone who likes to see for himself. Faith comes a bit hard for him. In today’s Gospel, Thomas tells Jesus he needs a map in order to follow him.

Can’t you just see Jesus looking at him, a little dumbfounded. Thomas has been with Jesus through it all – the sermons, the loaves and fishes, the walking on water, the raising of Lazarus. But he still doesn’t see with that comfortable trust which frees the heart to give itself completely to God.


Hey, I get it, don’t you! Jesus is prepping his disciples for the coming days of his Passion and Death. This is going to be the hardest time of all their lives. Fear, uncertainty, and impending danger hang in the air like a steel fog. Thomas is scared and confused.

We’ve all been there. Maybe we’re there right now.

John14_6 Way

Jesus is saying the same thing to us as he said to Thomas:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

Jesus is the Way. Let us find him in our daily prayer, scripture reading, and acts of mercy. Let us give him any fear, confusion or doubt blocking us from moving forward in faith.


Poetry: The Way Under the Way – Mark Nepo

For all that has been written,
for all that has been read, we
are led to this instant where one
of us will speak and one of us will
listen, as if no one has ever placed
an oar into that water.

It doesn’t matter how we come
to this. We may jump to it or be
worn to it. Because of great pain.
Or a sudden raw feeling that this
is all very real. It may happen in a
parking lot when we break the eggs
in the rain. Or watching each other
in our grief.

But here we will come. With very
little left in the way.

When we meet like this, I may not
have the words, so let me say it now:
Nothing compares to the sensation
of being alive in the company of
another. It is God breathing on
the embers of our soul.

Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.

We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
of compassion.

Ultimately,
we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.

Like human fish,
we are asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart.

There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
Accepting this,
we can do everything
and go anywhere.


Music: Jesus Is the Way – written by Walter Hawkins, sung here by the Morgan State Choir (lyrics below). 

(The Morgan State University Choir is one of the nation’s most prestigious university choral ensembles and was led for more than three decades by the late Dr. Nathan Carter, celebrated conductor, composer, and arranger. While classical, gospel, and contemporary popular music comprise the majority of the choir’s repertoire, the choir is noted for its emphasis on preserving the heritage of the spiritual, especially in the historic practices of performance.)

Jesus Christ Is The Way

When I think about the hour
Then I know what I must do
When I think about, what God, has done for me
Then I will open up my heart
To everyone I see, and say
Jesus Christ is the way!

No one knows the day nor the hour
Maybe morn, night or noon
But just rest assured
Time will be no more
He is coming (I know he’s coming) soon
Coming soon

And I will open up my heart
To everyone I see
And say
Jesus Christ is the way
Then I will open up my heart
To everyone I see
And say
Jesus Christ is the way
And say
Jesus Christ is the way

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 9, 2022

Click here for readings

800px-Domenico_Fetti_-_Peter's_vision_of_a_sheet_with_animals_-_Kunsthistorisches_Museum_Wien
Peter’s Vision of the Sheet – By Domenico Fetti – Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Bilddatenbank., Public Domain

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have the long story and explanation by Peter about who can be welcomed into the Community.

The earliest Christians were all Jews. Their beginning Christian rituals had deep roots in Jewish tradition. Their entire expectation of a Messiah was wrapped in the garment of the Old Testament. So it was hard for them to comprehend that Gentiles might also be saved by the Blood of Christ.

We might be tempted to consider these Jewish Christians very provincial, parochial, or even prejudiced in their closed attitudes. But maybe we should just look in the mirror!

It seems to be an enduring human inclination that, rather than – like Peter – seek a road to inclusion, we claim privilege for ourselves and exclude others on all kinds of bases:

  • She’s a woman, so she can’t…. whatever…
  • He’s gay, so he can’t …
  • She’s divorced, so she can’t…
  • He’s pro-life, or pro-choice, so he can’t…
  • She’s a Muslim, an atheist, and (irony of ironies) a Jew, so she can’t…
  • He’s too young – She’s too old – so they can’t …

Maybe in your own life, you have felt the pain of some of these suggested or blatant exclusions.


Jn10_4 Mine

Jesus, in our Gospel, has a whole different approach to whom he loves. All creatures belong to him and will be brought to the Father in love.

I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.


Let us pray today to know and love our God ever more intensely. Let us ask to experience God’s infinite love and knowledge of us so that our unquenchable joy, humble gratitude, and limitless charity grow more evident.

Let us pray these gifts for all our sisters and brothers, no matter by what gate they come to the sheep fold.


Quote: I couldn’t find the original source, but it is a quote common in Eastern Spirituality:

We are all One.
There is no Other.


Music: They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

This is an interesting rendering of an old hymn. Kind of touched my heart.

Saturday of the Third Week of Easter

May 7, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Peter is a headliner in both our readings.

Peter

I really love Peter. Can’t we relate to him on so many levels as he stumbles and shines through his growing relationship with Jesus? 

Some of my best prayers with Peter have been:

  • when he tries to walk on water to meet Jesus in the sea

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Mk.14:28


  • when he gets slammed for trying to stop Jesus from talking about his death

Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me!” Mt. 13:41


  • when his name is changed to Rock and he’s foretold his future

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Mt. 16:18


  • when he cowers in denial outside Jesus’s trial

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mk. 14:72


  • when he recognizes the Resurrected Jesus on the shore and swims to him

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. Jn.21:7


In today’s first reading, we see Peter in his full authority as the Vicar of Christ.

Jn6_68 shall we go

In our Gospel, we see Peter’s unequivocal confession of faith, voiced for the Church, voiced for all of us:

Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
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.”


Let’s take whatever piece of Peter is in us today
and lay it at the feet of Jesus
in our own confession of faith and hope.

Poetry: Simon Peter – John Poch


There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand.
The way of an eagle in the air,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the heart of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid

–Prov. 30:18, 19

                              I
Contagious as a yawn, denial poured
over me like a soft fall fog, a girl
on a carnation strewn parade float, waving
at everyone and no one, boring and bored
There actually was a robed commotion parading.
I turned and turned away and turned. A swirl

of wind pulled back my hood, a fire of coal
brightened my face, and those around me whispered:
You’re one of them, aren’t you? You smell like fish.
And wine, someone else joked. That’s brutal. That’s cold,
I said, and then they knew me by my speech.
They let me stay and we told jokes like fisher-
men and houseboys. We gossiped till the cock crowed,
his head a small volcano raised to mock stone.

                              II
Who could believe a woman’s word, perfumed
in death? I did. I ran and was outrun
before I reached the empty tomb. I stepped
inside an empty shining shell of a room,
sans pearl. I walked back home alone and wept
again. At dinner. His face shone like the sun.

I went out into the night. I was a sailor
and my father’s nets were calling. It was high tide,
I brought the others. Nothing, the emptiness
of business, the hypnotic waves of failure.
But a voice from shore, a familiar fire, and the nets
were full. I wouldn’t be outswum, denied
this time. The coal-fire before me, the netted fish
behind. I’m carried where I will not wish.


Music:  Lord, to Whom Shall We Go? – Carolyn Arends

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

May 5, 2022

philip
unless

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, in our reading from Acts, we meet the Ethiopian eunuch who served the country’s Queen. The man was sitting in a chariot reading the prophet Isaiah. Philip asks him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” Philip’s instruction results in this faith-filled man’s Baptism.

It’s a bible story I’ve loved since I was a novice and read the excellent book by Alexander Jones, “Unless Some Man Show Me”.  That long-ago era in my life was a time when Vatican II opened up to the faithful the power and beauty of scriptural study and prayer.

The 1960s were a wonderful time to be committing myself to a life-long spiritual journey. Over the next few years, I devoured the published documents of Vatican II which included the one on sacred scripture, the “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” (“Dei Verbum”).

Here’s a great description of the document.



Before Vatican II, like many Catholics, I had had limited experience with scripture. Mainly, we had it read to us at Mass. We had a Bible in my childhood home, but we used it mainly to record familial births and deaths inside the front cover.

Part of the reason for this scriptural vacuum was the long-held belief that most Christians were not theologically astute enough to interpret scripture on their own. Vatican II initiated a blessed change in that perception.


JB

In 1966, the same Alexander Jones, in the company of 27 colleagues, edited the magnificent Jerusalem Bible. My parents gave me this revered book as a gift for my Religious Profession and it has accompanied my prayer for more than a half-century. 

Reading the phrase in Acts today, “unless someone show me”, brought the whole sacred journey back to me. 

I offer this brief reminiscence to confirm how precious and important it is to build our prayer life on scripture. It is also important to educate ourselves continually by reading good commentary and spirituality. Such thinkers are like Philip in today’s passage. They are the ones who will “show” us, opening to us new understandings for our prayer.


  1. Walter Brueggemann 
  2. Elizabeth Johnson
  3. Thelma Hall
  4. Macrina Wiederkehr 
  5. Raymond Brown
  6. Brother David Steindl-Rast 
  7. Sandra Schneiders
  8. Margaret Farley
  9. Matthew Fox
  10. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I would love for some of you
(even though you are a shy audience)  
to list some of your biblical and spiritual guides
in the comment section, if you feel so inclined.



Poetry: Give Me a Name – Emily Ruth Hazel, a New York City-based poet and writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature, Kinfolks: A Journal of Black Expression, and Ruminate Magazine. In 2014, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship to develop a full-length poetry book manuscript during a residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences.


The way home is a desolate road
through the desert. Only my driver and I
roll through the noonday heat. Ahead of us,
the air shimmers. Then out of a cloud
of dust, a man runs up behind us.
He calls out, Who are you reading?
A poet’s vision unfurls in my lap.
I’m thirsty for company, someone to walk
between these lines with me,
clear a path through my own wilderness.
The stranger says he’s well acquainted
with this writer. If he knows who I am,
he doesn’t let on. He climbs in
and we plunge beneath the words.
Whose story is this, anyway?
The one who takes a vow of silence,
an outcast whose most loyal friend is
heartache—is this a portrait of the poet
or of another? I hold the words like water
in my palms, my face reflected in them.
Back in Jerusalem, I was an unexpected guest
in God’s house. There I was dark enough
that I’d never pass as a native.
In a land of divided rooms,
neither side claims me.
Smooth chinned, voice unchanged,
even among my own, I am always other.
My educated tongue surprises.
I read the way my people envy
and despise me in the same blink.
The jewel of Ethiopia, our warrior queen,
trusts me with the nation’s treasure.
But power of the purse came with a price.
Still a boy when I was taught my body
could not be trusted, I was like a lamb
that hears the metal scraping
hot against the stone. When they came for me,
my gut churned. A boulder sealed
my throat. Only mangled moans escaped.
They carved me into a loyal servant
ashamed of my own voice.
Deep in my chest liquid rage
threatened to erupt. I tried to swallow
the unspeakable. Learned to amputate
everything I felt. Any part of me that trembled
was a danger best denied.
All the boys I knew marched into manhood
believing courage hung between their legs.
But I’m my mother’s child.
Long after the men who tore me from my home
washed my blood off their blade,
I remembered my mother
had shown me how to be brave.
Wherever I go, I’m described by my difference,
defined by what I cannot do or be, haunted by
echoes of violence known but unnamed.
Never to look into a young face and recognize
my likeness, I’m tired of being seen
as an absence, a shadow that merely calls
attention to what is touched by light.
Here in this barren place, riding with
a stranger, I feel like I belong.
The wheels of my world slow to a stop.
I step out of the story I’ve been told
must be mine. The man I’ve just met
stands beside me as we wade into a river.
He holds my shoulders. Dips me
into the muddy water. Not as I was held down
years ago. This time, I’ve chosen
to be held. I feel the muscles in my back
relax against his arm. Memory stirs,
half-awake: my mother’s gentle hands
bathe me as a baby.
Raised up again, my body breaks
the surface. Bright sky overwhelms.
Boulder rolled away, my tongue
unguarded now. Laughing and coughing,
mouth full of water and silt and suddenly a song
in a language I’ve never heard.
God of the unsung, God of the present
and the missing, God who translates
phantom pain, who holds the map of all
my scars, may this body be your temple.
Some say my branches died before they bloomed,
water too precious to be wasted on me.
Don’t let me wither under the blistering sun,
cursed for bearing no fruit.
If I can offer shelter to someone called
to walk a lonely road, maybe that’s enough.
God of the forgotten, God of the never begotten,
will my story, at least, outlive me?
Give me a name worth remembering,
a name that will never be cut off.

Music:  Thy Word – Amy Grant