A Gallery of Sinners!

Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
September 6, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Corinthians might leave us thinking, “Wow, maybe I’m a sinner but I’m sure not as bad as those guys!”

Their Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent 🙂

Paul generates quite a list of reprobates, doesn’t he!

Do not be deceived;
neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves
nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers
will inherit the Kingdom of God.

The list is so compelling that we might be blinded by it and miss the message that the reading has for us. And I think the message is this – what do Paul’s miscreants have in common?

They have violated and scorned
the sanctity of
RELATIONSHIP
which demands commitment, trust,
reverence and integrity.


When, in our prayer, we examine our conscience and honestly place before God the best we have done with our day, how does it look in terms of right-relationship?

How committed, honest, respectful and caring
have we been toward those God has given us
in the circle of our lives?

Paul’s catalogue of sinners use others for their own selfish purposes. There is no mutuality, responsibility or investment in one another’s good. And while our wrongdoings may not make Paul’s Most Wanted List, they will be characterized by the same failings.


The question Paul offers us is this: how reverent, honest, respectful, merciful and loving am I in each of my relationships – with God, myself, Creation, my immediate and larger world?
Or whom might I instead “write off” as fodder for my contempt, gossip, judgements, disregard, indifference or exclusion?

NAMASTE

Maybe we don’t mean to do these things, but I think we might be surprised if we really took a good look at ourselves — myself included.

In calling the  Corinthians to get it together, Paul is also calling me.


Poetry: When I Am Among the Trees – Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It's simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Music: We Are All One – 

Alleluia: Everyone’s Invited

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 28, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings share the common theme of humility, instructing us that the virtue is essential to our salvation.

Lk14_11 humbled

Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Humility, of course, gets a bad rap in our dominating, “me” culture. We tend to think of humiliation, servitude, inelegance rather than the actual root of the word: humus -“of the earth”.

I was fascinated a few years ago by a small fracas arising from the unconsidered remarks of one of our Phillies baseball players. The team had been running hot and cold – with a little bit too much cold for some fans. The famous Philly “boos” had been flying. Frustrated with these, then outfielder Sean Rodriguez referred to the disgruntled fans as “entitled”. 

angry

Uh oh! They didn’t like that. We prefer to think of ourselves as “deserving “, right?

Humility is that virtue which helps us realize that we are not “entitled” or “deserving” of anything over and above other human beings. It roots us in the respect for each other that refuses to rank the worth of other human beings. 

The social leverage that comes from wealth, power, and influence can beguile us. We become lost in a maze of stereotypes, rankings and prejudices which are the foundation of social injustice.



Do we ever hear among ourselves justifying phrases for our entitlement like these. Maybe the thoughts go unexpressed, but the attitude is unmistakably there:

  • well, I earned what I have
  • at least I paid for what I have
  • they” need to work if they want to have …(food, healthcare, housing…)
  • it’s their own fault for … (dropping out of school, taking drugs, ….)
  • that’s just the way it is in “those” countries. The people are …(lazy, stupid, violent …)
  • they” don’t need what I need. “They” are used to being … (poor, disabled, sick …)

And probably the most dangerous of all the phrases:

  • it’s not my problem
  • I’m not the one exiling, bombing, blocking, trafficking, enslaving “them”

Today’s readings enjoin us: it is my problem. My attitude, choices, vote, conversation, and lifestyle matter at the banquet of life we are all meant to share.

My intention to humbly join and rejoice with all Creation, to take a seat beside and never above my sister and brother – this is my only “entitlement” to the one banquet that matters.

When you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.


Prose – from Mary Oliver in Upstream (Penguin Press, 2016)

Understand from the first this certainty. Butterflies don’t write books, neither do lilies, or violets. Which doesn’t mean they don’t know, in their own way, what they are. That they don’t know they are alive – that they don’t feel, that action upon which all consciousness sits, lightly or heavily.

Humility is the prize of the leaf-world.
Vainglory is the bane of us, the humans.  

Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the windflower and the bull thistle and the coreopsis with the greatest respect. 


Music:  A Place at the Table – Lori True and Shirley Elena Murray

Alleluia: Wake Up!

Thursday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
August 25, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082522.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!  
For you do not know when the Lord will come.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us beautiful blessings and vigorous encouragement for our spiritual lives. 

Paul begins his letter of instruction to the Corinthians with a stirring reminder of the spiritual gifts they have received:

… to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy,
with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…

1 Corinthians 1:1

As we read these words, we open our hearts to allow Paul to speak to us who have received the same call and blessings as the Corinthians:

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1: 2-4

Wow! What if we really believed that blessing? What if we lived our lives like the fortified, invigorated Christians Paul describes!

What if we really woke up to the graces we have received and lived a life that witnessed to them!


That kind of awakened living is what Jesus calls us to in the Gospel.

Jesus said
“Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: 
if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Lord will come.

Matthew 24: 42-44

We often relate this Gospel to the final coming of Christ at the end of time when we don’t want to be caught off guard. But there is a much more extensive call in this powerful parable.

The Spirit of God comes to us in every moment of our lives. It reaches out to us with every breath through which we share in God’s eternal cosmic Inspiration. Jesus invites us not to miss God’s Presence in each moment – not simply the last one in our earthly lives.

As our day passes – as our lives pass – there are no vacuums where God is absent. God is there even in darkness and suffering. God is there even in the mindless bliss that can render us unconscious of our blessings. 


Poetry: Psalm 145 – Opening Heart by Christine Robinson

Let us pray to be fully awake to God’s Presence as we pray today’s Responsorial Psalm as rendered by Pastor Robinson.

I exalt you, Holy One, and open my heart to you
by remembering your great love.
Your expansiveness made this beautiful world
in a universe too marvelous to understand.

Your desire created life, and you nurtured
that life with your spirit.
You cherish us all—and your prayer
in us is for our own flourishing.

You are gracious to us
slow to anger and full of kindness
You touch us with your love—speak to us
with your still, small voice, hold us when we fall.

You lift up those who are oppressed
by systems and circumstances.
You open your hand
and satisfy us.

You ask us to call on you—
and even when you seem far away, our
longings call us back to you.
Hear my cry, O God, for some days, it is all I have.

Music: Psalm 145: I Will Praise Your Name

Alleluia: You were BORN beautiful!

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 31, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/073122.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings focus on “vanity” – its threats and remedies.

Often, we think of vanity as a physical emotion – that Narcissistic self-absorption that keeps us in front of a mirror for inordinate amounts of time. Our culture promotes this kind of vanity by working endlessly to convince us that without certain products we are “not enough” on our own. 

mirror statue
Vanity gazing in its mirror

Historically, this kind of rhetoric was directed primarily toward women, spawning a nearly $500 billion global cosmetic market! But men are catching up! The men’s market is forecasted to reach nearly $30 billion by 2023.

Several years ago, while flying home from a business trip, I was seated across from two young women. As we approached home, the one nearest me began to prepare for landing. She initiated an elaborate cosmetic ritual that involved no fewer than ten brushes plus an array of tubes and compacts. At first, it struck me really funny. Then I realized how very sad it was.

This maturing child was no more than eighteen. She was naturally beautiful with the vigor of youth. But she had obviously spent a lot of money and time not believing in her natural beauty.


Society considers vanity as a kind of pride and pomposity. I think just the opposite. I think vanity is really fear, self-dissatisfaction, anxiety and pain because something has convinced us that we are inadequate.

Vanity damages souls as well as bodies. It makes us behave in greedy, self-absorbed and careless ways toward our neighbors. It makes us pretend we are more than we think we are. It saps us of the strength to be generous, trusting, honest and hopeful.


Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, tells us to get over this kind of vanity:

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Stop lying to one another,

since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator. 

Col3_10 new image

What if that sweet girl on Flight 419 had been able to look in her mirror and see the image of her Creator? What if we could all do that? How might we spend our time and money differently if we were convinced of how beautiful we – and every creature – are to God?


Poetry: a repeat poem which is well worth repeating:

The Divine Image
William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

Music: How Could Anyone Ever Tell You – Shaina Noll

I have added two versions of this beautiful song which never fails to leave me misty-eyed. Let God sing it to you in your prayer today.

Alleluia: Innocence!

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 21, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/072122.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jeremiah images Israel as a bride, the sacred betrothed of God:

I remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the LORD was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should any presume to partake of them,
evil would befall them, says the LORD.

Jeremiah 2: 1-3

These passionate verses portray a heartbroken and angry God lamenting Israel’s ingratitude and unfaithfulness.

Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:12-13

This reading from Jeremiah is about a loss of innocence, and the spiritual fragmentation it can bring. Our Alleluia Verse, on the other hand, leads to a Gospel that proclaims the restoration of an “eternal innocence” rooted in “knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven”.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, God,
Creator of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones
the mysteries of the Kingdom.

There is a human innocence that comes from not knowing any better, a kind of blind trust that hasn’t yet been “burned”.

But don’t confuse “innocence” with naïveté.

The Gospel innocence Jesus describes isn’t blind and it isn’t naive. It does know better. It recognizes and chooses the cost of a faithful life. That recognition and choice yield a profound spiritual freedom that is the ultimate innocence.

Blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Matthew 13: 16-17

Poetry: The Divine Image – William Blake

from The Project Gutenberg
To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight 
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, 
Is God our Father dear
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, 
Is man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart ; 
Pity, a human face ;
And Love, the human form divine ;
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress, 
Prays to the human form divine :
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form, 
In heathen, Turk, or Jew,
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell, 
There God is dwelling too.

Music: U2 – A Song for Someone from Songs of Innocence

When you listen to this highly poetic song, could God be your “someone”?

Alleluia: Seedlings

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 20, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/072022.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God,
Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our first reading recounts Jeremiah’s call. Oh, and it has a sovereign ring to it, doesn’t it! You can almost hear trumpets accompanying the words:

The word of the LORD came to me thus:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

Jeremiah 1: 2-3

Long before Jeremiah knew, the Word had been instilled in him. At the appointed time, God called for that Word to bear fruit.


At our creation, God breathed the Divine Word into our hearts too. Jesus says it was like a farmer planting seed. And our humble, patient Creator waits to see if we turn out to be rich soil.

A sower went out to sow.
… some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.

Some fell on rocky ground, 
…. the sun rose it was scorched,

Some seed fell among thorns
which choked it.

But some seed fell on rich soil, 
and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.
(from Matthew 13: 1-9)

When Jeremiah heard about the Word in his heart, he didn’t immediately have “ears to hear”. At first, he resisted:

“Ah, Lord GOD!” I said,
“I know not how to speak;
I am too young.”

Jeremiah

Every day, God continues to call forth the fruitful Word from us. Sometimes we resist. Our lives can be a little rocky, thorny, or we might just be off the path a bit.

We also might make excuses to ignore the call of grace:

  • too young
  • too old
  • too tired
  • too busy
  • too afraid
  • too weak

We might just too … too… too ourselves into spiritual quicksand!


Our beautiful psalm tells what to say instead of our “too”s:

For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 71: 5-6; 15,17

Poetry: Two poems today – one from Wendell Berry and one from me. His is way better. 🙂

The Wild Geese – Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end.  In time's maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves.  We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes.  Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here.  And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear.  What we need is here.

If You Are Mother – Renee Yann, RSM

If you are Mother, God
don’t let us hurt ourselves;
keep freedom in us
as freedom,
not as willfulness,
so that we grow
even if we must grow down
like a dark, hidden root.

Remember,
if life dies in us,
You change.  We are not
isolated seedlings
you left somewhere
in lonely hope one spring.
You are the ground, and the
growth, and the growth’s nourishment.
When we green, it is You
who thrive.

Music: Listen and blossom, dears❤️

Alleluia: Refreshed

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin
July 14, 2022

Today’s Readings 

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071422.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse offers us a loving, comforting invitation:

Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me,
all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.


Each of today’s readings offers beautiful lines that can be caressed in prayer to deepen our relationship with our Merciful God.

Isaiah’s heartfelt longing for God keeps him alert day and night to God’s Presence:

My soul yearns for you in the night,
yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you…

Isaiah 26:9

And even though times are tough for Isaiah’s community, he expresses a hope born of faith – like morning dew filled with first daylight:

Salvation we have not achieved for the earth,
the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth.
But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise;
awake and sing, you who lie in the dust.
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the land of shades gives birth.

Isaiah 26: 18-19

Our Responsorial Psalm picks up the theme and gives it as a promise to future generations:

Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let God’s future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven and beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.

Psalm 102: 19-21

And in our beautiful Gospel, Jesus embodies the promise in his merciful invitation:

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

Matthew 11: 28-30

Poetry: Dew Drop – Rabindranath Tagore

Through many years,
At great expense,
Journeying through many countries,
I went to see high mountains,
I went to the oceans.

Only I had not seen at my very doorstep,
The dew drop glistening
On the ear of the corn.


Music: Zuni Sunrise – Wil Numkena

The Zuni People are Native Americans of New Mexico, USA

A morning prayer to greet the sunrise. Let the sound pray in you without words.

Alleluia: Living Bread

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 19, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the most intimate and sacred feast of “Corpus Christi”, as we called it in our Latinized “old days”. In those days, we tried very hard to celebrate the feast in the best way we knew how — processions, hymns, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Yet nothing did, nor ever will, come close to capturing the mystery we honor on this holy day.

Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven,
says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.


The items of faith contained in this short verse are earth-shattering. We are asked to believe that Jesus

  • came down from heaven
  • is the visible Presence of the infinite Love of God
  • lives on with in the Eucharist and in the community of the Church
  • grants us a share in eternal life
  • and is present to us beyond time, space, and appearances

The mystery of the Body of Christ/Living Bread is infinite and profound. Great minds such as Pierre Teilhard deChardin spent entire lives plumbing its depths.

When one understands how physical and immediate is the omni-influence of Christ, the vigor assumed by every detail of the Christian life is quite astonishing; it gains an emphasis never dreamt of by those who are frightened of the realistic view of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Take charity, for example, that complete change of attitude so insistently taught by Christ. It has nothing in common with our colorless philanthropy, but represents the essential affinity which brings human beings closer together, not in the superficial sphere of sensible affections or earthly interests, but in building up the pleroma (the fullness of God in Creation.).

The possibility, and even the obligation of doing everything for God are no longer based solely on the virtue of obedience, or solely on the moral value of intention; they can be explained, in short, only by the marvelous grace, instilled into every human effort, no matter how material, of effectively cooperating, through its physical result, in the fulfillment of the body of Christ.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in Christianity and Evolution

As I pray this rather heady passage from de Chardin, I reflect on these thoughts:

  • All Creation generates from God and returns to God in the fullness of Love.
  • Jesus Christ is the visible gift of that Love born into our human story.
  • By our faith in Jesus, and our choice to participate in his life, we become part of the ongoing perfection of Creation.
  • The Body of Christ, once present in the flesh in time, now sanctifies Creation through our lives, united in the Bread of Life.


No poetry today. Slowly read and re-read the passage from de Chardin. Find it’s message for you … perhaps just a word or a phrase:

  • the omni-influence of Christ
  • charity, …. that complete change of attitude so insistently taught by Christ
  • nothing in common with our colorless philanthropy
  • building up the fullness of God in Creation
  • the marvelous grace… of effectively cooperating … in the fulfillment of the Body of Christ

Music: Benedictus – Karl Jenkins

Alleluia: God’s Child!

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
June 16, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our verse affirms the wonder of our spiritual bloodline:

Alleluia, alleluia.
You have received a spirit of adoption
as God’s children
through which we cry:
Abba! Father!


Elijah

After the Biblical theatrics of our first reading about Elijah and Elisha, our heads might be full of fiery miracles and restorations to life!  Perhaps our Alleluia Verse seems mild by comparison. But it is not!


Think of it! You are God’s child! You are made of Divinity!

Oh, if we only fully believed this about ourselves, what would our lives be like?

Instead, we sometimes behave like lonely orphans in this world, making choices that alienate us from our true nature.


Today as we pray this verse from Romans, and relish the beautiful Gospel which gives us the Our Father, let’s rekindle our sacred heritage as God’s beloved child.

We can speak to God in greatest security and confidence about all that is most central in our lives. Let God hold you and hum to you, a loving Parent Who cherishes your nearness and your trust.

Letting God listen to us, we also listen to ourselves. We may be surprised at what we learn.


Poetry: The Creation (closing stanzas) – James Weldon Johnson

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.

Then God sat down—
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen.      Amen.


Music: from Songs for the Inner Child – Shaina Noll

Peace be with you, oh my dear one

Peace be with you, precious child.

Peace be with you, oh my dear one

Peace be with you precious child.

Angels hover all about you

They protect you night and day

Angels hover all about you

They will guide you on your way.

God is with you, oh my dear one

God is with you, precious child.

God is with you, oh my dear one

God is with you, precious child.

You are blessed and you are holy

Precious gift god gave to me

You are blessed and you are holy

You’re an angel I can see.

Peace be with you, oh my dear one

Peace be with you, precious child.

Peace be with you, oh my dear one

Peace be with you precious child.

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

May 30, 2022

Today , in God’s Lavish Mercy, we read in Acts about Baptism in the Spirit and the powers it bestows. When Paul encounters some believers who have received the Baptist’s rite of repentance, he asks if they had received the Holy Spirit.

Their simple answer kind of amuses me:

We’ve never even heard of him!

Paul remedies the situation with a few quick sacramental steps and:

… they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul laid his hands on them,
the Holy Spirit came upon them,
and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.


When I read passages like this, I sometimes wonder what has happened in the millennia since those early Spirit-filled Baptisms… since the days when the Holy Spirit seems to have burst out all over in flames, wonders and eloquence.

battery

Has the Holy Spirit changed? Diminished? Is Her battery running low? Or have we changed … the Church and we members who comprise it?

I guess we all know the answer, given our faith in a changeless God.


So why doesn’t the Holy Spirit blaze for us as She did for those twelve Ephesians in today’s reading?

I think it’s a matter of how we see, and listen. 

Sir John Lubbock, a 19th century scientist and polymath wrote this:
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In

Might not this wisdom apply as well to how we perceive the Spirit in our lives?

If in our daily experiences and interactions, we remain on a superficial, distracted relationship with what is sacred in all Creation, then we – like the fellows in our reading – may “never even hear” of the Holy Spirit.

But if, by prayer and contemplation, we open ourselves to what is holy in everything around us, then what we see and hear, what we feel and respond to begins to change — to catch fire.

Hopkins_wings


During this week leading up to Pentecost, we might try this practice: let’s look more intensely for the Spirit in our daily lives by noticing the presence (or absence) of the Spirit’s gifts.

  • How are our choices, conversations, judgements, reactions reflective of these gifts?
  • In my experiences each day, what persons or circumstances have mirrored these gifts? What has overshadowed or eradicated them?

The Holy Spirit’s heart beats alive and well within all Creation. I might just need to dust off my stethoscope a bit to hear it! Maybe this beautiful poem will help.

God’s Grandeur- Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Meditation: God’s Grandeur- read so beautifully by Samuel West