That Little Seed

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 26, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once again with Psalm 126, a song of hope fulfilled:

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
    we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with rejoicing.

Then they said among the nations,
    “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
    we are glad indeed.

Psalm 126: 1-3

In our readings, we are called to be people of hope – to live in gratitude for hopes fulfilled, and to live in confidence of future blessing.


Paul blesses us with some of his most powerful words:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

Romans 8:18

How often, over the ensuing centuries, have these words uplifted and embravened a struggling heart! Paul reminds us of what he so passionately believed – that we are not here for this world alone; that we, with all Creation, are being transformed for eternal life in God.


Jesus too reminds us that our life in faith is so much bigger than we perceive. We see a tiny mustard seed, but God sees the whole tree of eternal life blossoming in us.  We see a fingertip of yeast, but God sees the whole Bread of Life rising in us.

Paul tells us to be People of Hope who do not yet expect to see the object of their hope but who, nonetheless, believe and love with all their hearts.

May we pray this today for ourselves, and for anyone burdened by suffering or hopelessness at this time in their lives.


Poetry: Hope – Czeslaw Milosz

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
that sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all thing you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.
You cannot enter. But you're sure it's there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.
Some people say that we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
There are the ones who have no hope.
They think the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hand of thieves.

Music:  Living Hope – Phil Wickham

Winds of Change

Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

October 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, the longest and very familiar psalm which pleads for God to mercifully teach us:

  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Goodness 
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Compassion

In our readings, Paul asserts that without God’s Grace we can never attain these gifts. Jesus calls us to use these gifts and to practice a holy life by recognizing and responding justly to the challenges of our times.


Paul sounds a lot like someone approaching the microphone at “Sinners Anonymous”:

I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.

Romans 7:18-20

Paul basically attests to the fact that for human beings, even him, will and actions often don’t synch up. Sure, we want to be good people, but as Nike says, do we …

Paul’s says no. The only way we do the good we will to do is by the grace of Jesus Christ.


In our Gospel, Jesus affirms the slowness of the human spirit to act on the realities around us. In some translations, Jesus uses a phrase which caught on with the architects of Vatican II: the signs of the times.

Jesus tells his listeners and us that we need to be alert to the circumstances of our world. It both weeps and rejoices. Where it weeps, we must be a source of mercy and healing. Where it rejoices, we must foster and celebrate the Presence of the Spirit.


In the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes (The Church in the Modern World), we read:

In every age, the church carries the responsibility
of reading the signs of the times
and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task.
In language intelligible to every generation, it should be able to answer
the ever recurring questions which people ask
about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come,
and how one is related to the other.
We must be aware of and understand the aspirations, the yearnings,
and the often dramatic features of the world in which we live.

Although written in the 1960s, these powerful words hold true today. We are the Church of which the document speaks. We are the ones whom Jesus calls to respond with authentic justice and mercy to the signs of the times. 

Read the newspaper in that light today. Watch the news in that light. Meet your brothers and sisters in that light today.


Poetry: Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Perhaps more than anything else, Shelley wanted his message of reform and revolution spread, and the wind becomes the symbol for spreading the word of change through the poet-prophet figure. Some also believe that the poem was written in response to the loss of his son William in 1819 (born to Mary Shelley – author of “Frankenstein”). The ensuing pain influenced Shelley. The poem allegorizes the role of the poet as the voice of change and revolution. (Wikipedia)

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, 
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead 
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, 
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, 
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou, 
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed 
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, 
Each like a corpse within its grave, until 
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow 
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill 
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) 
With living hues and odours plain and hill: 
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; 
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear! 

II 

Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion, 
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed, 
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean, 
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread 
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge, 
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head 
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge 
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height, 
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge 
Of the dying year, to which this closing night 
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre, 
Vaulted with all thy congregated might 
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere 
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear! 

III 

Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams 
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay, 
Lull’d by the coil of his crystalline streams, 
Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay, 
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers 
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day, 
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers 
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou 
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers 
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below 
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear 
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know 
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear, 
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear! 

IV 

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear; 
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee; 
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share 
The impulse of thy strength, only less free 
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even 
I were as in my boyhood, and could be 
The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven, 
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed 
Scarce seem’d a vision; I would ne’er have striven 
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need. 
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! 
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed! 
A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d 
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud. 

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is: 
What if my leaves are falling like its own! 
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies 
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, 
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce, 
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one! 
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe 
Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth! 
And, by the incantation of this verse, 
Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth 
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind! 
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth 
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, 
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?


Music: The Times They Are A’changin’ – Bob Dylan 

Dylan’s songs in the 50s and 60s became anthems for the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defied popular music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counterculture. (Wikipedia) 
Ah, it was a good time to be young! (me)

The Swedish Academy awarded Dylan the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

A Fire for Good

October 21, 2021
Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy,  we pray with Psalm 1 which promises that, if we walk in faith, we will prevail against any evil.

Blessed the one who follows not
    the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
    and meditates on the law day and night.

Psalm 1: 1-3

The passage from Romans and our Gospel preach, in no uncertain terms, that we must choose good over evil.

In our Gospel, Jesus says he has come to set fire on the earth! He says that, because of him, there will not be peace but division, setting households against one another. 

It’s not a comforting Gospel.

And guess what, we don’t live in a comforting world do we? We see human beings set against each other in war, political corruption, economic despoiling, human trafficking, ecological crime and other deeply ingrained systemic abuses.


Pope John Paul II in his encyclical EVANGELIUM VITAE refers to these realities as a “culture of death”.

Some threats come from nature itself, but they are made worse by the culpable indifference and negligence of those who could in some cases remedy them. Others are the result of situations of violence, hatred and conflicting interests, which lead people to attack others through murder, war, slaughter and genocide.

And how can we fail to consider the violence against life done to millions of human beings, especially children, who are forced into poverty, malnutrition and hunger because of an unjust distribution of resources between peoples and between social classes? And what of the violence inherent not only in wars as such but in the scandalous arms trade, which spawns the many armed conflicts which stain our world with blood? What of the spreading of death caused by reckless tampering with the world’s ecological balance, by the criminal spread of drugs, or by the promotion of certain kinds of sexual activity which, besides being morally unacceptable, also involve grave risks to life? It is impossible to catalogue completely the vast array of threats to human life, so many are the forms, whether explicit or hidden, in which they appear today! 


Paul says that, through our Baptism, we are called and strengthened to bear witness against such a culture:

But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Every day, each one of us has the opportunity to stand up for mercy and justice by the choices we make, by the attitudes we affirm, by the values we stand for. But sometimes it’s hard, because it can set us against some of the people around and close to us. That’s when the rubber meets the road!


Poetry: The Onset by Robert Frost

In his poem, Frost is realistic about the onset of winter, at first comparing it to a death of someone who has failed to prevail against evil. But then he places winter in the whole cycle of the seasons and finds hope in the promise of spring.

Always the same, when on a fated night
At last the gathered snow lets down as white
As may be in dark woods, and with a song
It shall not make again all winter long
Of hissing on the yet uncovered ground,
I almost stumble looking up and round,
As one who overtaken by the end
Gives up his errand, and lets death descend
Upon him where he is, with nothing done
To evil, no important triumph won,
More than if life had never been begun.

Yet all the precedent is on my side:
I know that winter death has never tried
The earth but it has failed: the snow may heap
In long storms an undrifted four feet deep
As measured again maple, birch, and oak,
It cannot check the peeper’s silver croak;
And I shall see the snow all go down hill
In water of a slender April rill
That flashes tail through last year’s withered brake
And dead weeds, like a disappearing snake.
Nothing will be left white but here a birch,
And there a clump of houses with a church.


Music: Golden Autumn – Fariborz Lachini

Stirred, Not Shaken

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time 
October 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 97 which is built on two themes:

  • God reigns over all the earth
  • those who acknowledge God’s power have abundant reason to rejoice

This is good news for the people to whom Joel is preaching! Joel’s community has been devastated by locusts and drought. They are surrounded by adversaries. Life is just not easy for them. They have felt abandoned by God.

But Joel tells them that indeed God is annoyed, but still is always on the side of the faithful.

The LORD roars from Zion,
    and from Jerusalem raises his voice;
The heavens and the earth quake,
    but the LORD is a refuge to his people,
    a stronghold to the children of Israel.
Then shall you know that I, the LORD, am your God,
    dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain;
Jerusalem shall be holy,
    and strangers shall pass through her no more.


Psalm 97 reflects the same confident promise to all who suffer. Despite everything we are to rejoice!

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
    before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim God’s justice,
    and all peoples see God’s glory.
R.    Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
    and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
    and give thanks to God’s holy name.


So we are encouraged to heed Joel’s advice – to stir up our hearts in faith, to look around at all the faith-filled promises of nature mentioned in our first reading. We can learn:

  • from the sun which both rises and sets
  • from the moon which turns its mood but never disappears
  • from snow and rain which cycle invisibly through the years
  • from the leaves which hold the secret of eternal life

God abides with us, even amidst the “droughts” and “locusts”. And if we are faithful, all will be well.


Poetry: There are many wonderful images in Joel 4. One is that of the “Valley of Decision”, an image that has lent itself to many applications in art and literature. Here is one such poem:

OK — two of my “favoritest” actors!!!!

The Valley of Decision by John Oxenham

The World is in the Valley of Decision; 
It is standing at the parting of the ways; 
Will it climb the steps of God to realm elysian — 
Or fall on horror of still darker days? 

Will it free itself of every shameful shackle? 
Will it claim the glorious freedom of the brave? 
Will it lose the soul of Life in this debacle, 
And sink into a mean dishonored grave?

All the world is in the Valley of Decision, 
And out of it there is but one sure road; 
Eyes unsealed can still foresee the mighty vision 
Of a world in travail turning unto God.
 
All the world is in the Valley of Decision. 
Who shall dare its future destiny foretell? 
Will it yield its soul unto the Heavenly Vision, 
Or sink despairing into its own hell?

The World is in the Valley of Decision; 
— It is standing at the parting of the ways; 
Will it climb the steps of God to realm elysian — 
— Or fall on horror of still darker days?


Will it free itself of every shameful shackle?
— Will it claim the glorious freedom of the brave? 
Will it lose the soul of Life in this debacle, 
— And sink into a mean dishonored grave?
 
All the world is in the Valley of Decision, —
And out of it there is but one sure road; 
Eyes unsealed can still foresee the mighty vision 
— Of a world in travail turning unto God. 

All the world is in the Valley of Decision. 
— Who shall dare its future destiny foretell? 
Will it yield its soul unto the Heavenly Vision,
— Or sink despairing into its own hell?


Music: It Is Well – Kristene DiMarco

Resilient Hope

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
September 25, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 43 whose heart reveals the nature of hope and its power to inspire praise.

Wait for God, whom I shall again praise,
my savior and my God.

Psalm 43 is really the completion of Psalm 42, and they form a masterful combination. 

According to biblical scholar Carroll Stuhmueller:

The three stanzas of Psalm 42-43 lead listeners and readers through depression, struggle, and hope. The refrain sung at the end of each stanza contains three parts that summarize the attitude of each:
Why are you cast down, O my soulDepression
and why are you disquieted within me?Struggle
Hope in God Whom I shall again praise,Hope
my Lord and my God.Praise
Stuhmueller: Spirituality of the Psalms

The psalm follows logically after today’s first reading in which the prophet Haggai challenges the people to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and get working on the restoration of the Temple. The prophet proclaims encouragement in God’s name:

For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts.
This is the pact that I made with you
when you came out of Egypt,
And my spirit continues in your midst;
do not fear!

Haggai 2:5

Praying with these readings, we may reflect on our own current or past challenges in the light of faith and hope. God is with us now as God always has been, and will be. 

We are empowered by that promise to live courageous, generous lives. This is what hope looks like when it is alive in us.


Poetry: Hope – Czeslaw Milosz

Hope is with you when you believe
The earth is not a dream but living flesh,
that sight, touch, and hearing do not lie,
That all thing you have ever seen here
Are like a garden looked at from a gate.
You cannot enter. But you're sure it's there.
Could we but look more clearly and wisely
We might discover somewhere in the garden
A strange new flower and an unnamed star.
Some people say that we should not trust our eyes,
That there is nothing, just a seeming,
There are the ones who have no hope.
They think the moment we turn away,
The world, behind our backs, ceases to exist,
As if snatched up by the hand of thieves.

Music: Angel of Hope – Erik Berglund

Return Rejoicing!

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs
September 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 126

This six-verse psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and other Protestant liturgies. It is well known in Judaism as the preliminary psalm recited before the Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and as such is sung to a wide variety of melodies.

Wikipedia
Shir hama'alot (Psalm 126) - cantor Yossele Rosenblatt

Psalm 126 can be described as:

 “joy remembered and joy anticipated”

James Luther Mays

The psalm is divided into two parts. 

Joys remembered: The first three verses gratefully reflect on the joy and freedom felt upon return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.

Joys anticipated: The second three verses attest to the difficulties subsequent to that return. They voice a plea for restoration of joy.


This is a prayer most of us can relate to. Can you remember a time when you were so delighted to obtain a certain item, or status, or goal that you felt it was “almost like a dream” situation? 

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
    we were like those dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with rejoicing.

Psalm 126:1

But perhaps, once that reality was obtained, it wasn’t so easy to manage, or complete, or enjoy! Perhaps there were “dry spells” like the torrent-less desert of 126:

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
    like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
    shall reap rejoicing.

Psalm 126: 4-5

For example, I’ve heard a few young couples express delight upon buying their first home – a “fixer upper”. But often, the “fixing up” requires a lot more resources than expected!

Such was the situation for the Israelites who joyfully returned to Jerusalem — only to find a city in ruins, bereft of their beloved Temple, with devastated fields and vineyards.


Still, Psalm 126 is a testament to hope and resilience. It is an affirmation that we can go forward by faith, hope, trust, patience, and by drawing on the power of remembered mercies.

Although they go forth weeping,
    carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
    carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126:6

Poem: Blessing to Summon Rejoicing – Jan Richardson

When your weeping
has watered
the earth.
When the storm
has been long
and the night
and the season
of your sorrowing.
When you have seemed
an exile
from your life,
lost in the far country,
a long way from where
your comfort lies.
When the sound
of splintering
and fracture
haunts you.
When despair
attends you.
When lack.
When trouble.
When fear.
When pain.
When empty.
When lonely.
When too much
of what depletes you
and not enough
of what restores
and rests you.
Then let there be
rejoicing.
Then let there be
dreaming.
Let there be
laughter in your mouth
and on your tongue
shouts of joy.
Let the seeds
soaked by tears
turn to grain,
to bread,
to feasting.
Let there be
coming home.

— from Circle of Grace

Music: In the Place of Dreams – Tim Janis

Antidote to Fear

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

September 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 49, the point of which according to Walter Brueggemann is this:

The point is that death is the great equalizer,
and those who are genuinely wise
should not be impressed by or committed to
that which the world over-values.

From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

We may have heard the sentiment stated more succinctly by an anonymous scholar:

You can’t take it with you.


This is the core message Paul imparts to Timothy in our first reading:

For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

1 Timothy 6:10

The advice is about more than money, or “dollar-bucks” as my 5 year old grandnephew calls them.


The instruction is about our priorities –
whom, why and what
we love, value, and sacrifice for.

The opposite of this “love of money” is an unselfish, sacrificial love for others. This is the love Jesus hopes for in his disciples as he blesses them in today’s Gospel.

It takes courage to live such discipleship. As human beings, we tend to fear any kind of deprivation. We crave security, and sometimes we think money and possessions can give us that. Our readings today redirect that all too common misperception.

The world can be a very dark place, and of course, we will have fears and worries. Paul and our psalmist direct us to the right place to calm these concerns. Jesus calls us to believe in and live in the Light which is our true security.

Our psalm reminds us to keep our eyes on the eternal promise we have all been given.

But God will redeem my life,
will take me from the hand of Darkness.

Psalm 49: 16

Poetry: Accepting This – Mark Nepo

Yes, it is true. I confess,
I have thought great thoughts,
and sung great songs—all of it
rehearsal for the majesty
of being held.
The dream is awakened
when thinking I love you
and life begins
when saying I love you
and joy moves like blood
when embracing others with love.
My efforts now turn
from trying to outrun suffering
to accepting love wherever
I can find it.
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: His Eye is on the Sparrow (You might recall this version from the movie “Sister Act II”)

For fun, you might enjoy hearing how the 60s group, The O’Jays, interpreted Paul’s advice to Timothy.

Money money money money, money [Repeat: x 6]

Some people got to have it

Some people really need it

Listen to me why’all, do things, do things, do bad things with it

You want to do things, do things, do things, good things with it

Talk about cash money, money

Talk about cash money- dollar bills, why’all

For the love of money

People will steal from their mother

For the love of money

People will rob their own brother

For the love of money

People can’t even walk the street

Because they never know who in the world they’re gonna beat

For that lean, mean, mean green

Almighty dollar, money

For the love of money

People will lie, Lord, they will cheat

For the love of money

People don’t care who they hurt or beat

For the love of money

A woman will sell her precious body

For a small piece of paper it carries a lot of weight

Call it lean, mean, mean green

Almighty dollar

I know money is the root of all evil

Do funny things to some people

Give me a nickel, brother can you spare a dime

Money can drive some people out of their minds

Got to have it, I really need it

How many things have I heard you say

Some people really need it

How many things have I heard you say

Got to have it, I really need it

How many things have I heard you say

Lay down, lay down, a woman will lay down

For the love of money

All for the love of money

Don’t let, don’t let, don’t let money rule you

For the love of money

Money can change people sometimes

Don’t let, don’t let, don’t let money fool you

Money can fool people sometimes

People! Don’t let money, don’t let money change you,

It will keep on changing, changing up your mind.

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98 which we reflected on just this past Saturday on the feast of St. Augustine. Here’s a refresher if you’d care to glance back.

Because they proclaim God’s faithfulness, today’s psalm verses ready us to receive the Gospel’s expansive injunction: 

As we pass through the waters of life, we each meet our own “deeps”. Sometimes we do not recognize them as the sacred places where we are to meet God’s call.

Sometimes we see only their choppy surface, their tangled riptides, their frightening shadows.

Sometimes we miss the bounty held in the mystery of these moments. We fold our nets and try to sail away. 

As he did for the weary disciples, Jesus

  • lovingly contradicts our fear, 
  • releases our hope, 
  • fills the flimsy net of our faith to bursting … 

… if we will just trust his Word, and cast out with him over the waters of our lives.


A little visual “poetry” today:

Music: Cast Your Net – Timothy R. Smith

Memorial of Saint Augustine

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98, the scripture which inspired “Joy to the World”.

Psalm 98 describes God’s redemption of Israel and the jubilation that will ensue. In other words, it is a song of “rejoicing in the future tense”. When the community sang it for their great occasions, they had not yet seen the Savior. But their profound faith allowed them to celebrate in spirit what they believed would be accomplished – as the psalm’s concluding verse asserts:

In righteousness shall God judge the world
and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:8

We too are called to let our lives sing to the Lord in hope and confidence because we know that what we believe is true. That kind of faith in action is called “witness”. And we, my dears, in ALL circumstances of our lives, are charged to be WITNESSES!


  • Like the seas who sing in either still or storm
  • Like rivers who clap in ebb or the neap
  • Like the mountains who sing in all seasons


Let the sea and what fills it resound,
    the world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    the mountains shout with them for joy.

Psalm 98:7-8
  • Like our hearts that believe even through life’s intermingled joys and sorrows

This is your life,
joys and sorrow mingled,
one succeeding the other.

Catherine McAuley: Letter to Frances Warde (May 28, 1841)

Poetry: Flickering Mind – Denise Levertov

Lord, not you
it is I who am absent.
At first
belief was a joy I kept in secret,
stealing alone
into sacred places:
a quick glance, and away -- and back,
circling.
I have long since uttered your name
but now
I elude your presence.
I stop
to think about you, and my mind
at once
like a minnow darts away,
darts
into the shadows, into gleams that fret
unceasing over
the river's purling and passing.
Not for one second
will my self hold still, but wanders
anywhere,
everywhere it can turn.  Not you,
it is I am absent.
You are the stream, the fish, the light,
the pulsing shadow.
You the unchanging presence, in whom all
moves and changes.
How can I focus my flickering, perceive
at the fountain's heart
the sapphire I know is there?

Music: Let Your Heart Sing – Young Oceans

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we pray with Psalm 34, our Sunday readings present us with spiritual ultimatums.

In our first reading, sensing his impending death, Joshua gathers the tribes on the Great Plains of Shechem – the land of their father Abraham. Joshua requires a commitment from the people:

“If it does not please you to serve the LORD,
decide today whom you will serve …
As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua 24:15

In other words, “fish or cut bait” – you’re either with God, or you’re not. And your lives should reflect the choice.

In our Gospel, Jesus too feels death’s approach. His teachings have become more intense and direct, particularly regarding the Eucharist. This intensity has caused some of his listeners to waver. They’re not sure they can accept his words. Some drift away.

Jesus challenges the Twelve, those on whom he depends to carry his message after his death.

“Do you also want to leave?


These readings talk about the big choices, the soul’s orientation, either:

  • to seek and respond to God in our daily interactions
  • to be indifferent toward God’s Presence in our lives

Jesus’s question is before us all the time?
Do we hear it?


(As for the unfortunate and contested second reading from Ephesians, this long but superb article from Elizabeth Johnson is worth your time.)

https://bcm.bc.edu/issues/summer_2004/features.html


Poetry: Choose – Rainer Maria Rilke

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
The darkness that comes with every infinite fall
And the shivering blaze of every step up.
So many live on and want nothing
And are raised to the rank of prince
By the slippery ease of their light judgments
But what you love to see are faces
That do work and feel thirst…
You have not grown old,
And it is not too late to dive
Into your increasing depths where life
Calmly gives out its own secret.

Music:  I Will Choose Christ – Tom Booth