The Heart’s Temple

November 19, 2021
Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with a passage from Chronicles as our Responsorial Psalm:

Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
    majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours.

1 Chronicles 29:11

This passage inclines us to worship God whose “temple” is all of Creation.


Both readings today speak about the “Temple”. After the victory of Judas Maccabeus, the Jewish people restore their physical Temple with exuberant celebration, recognizing it as a symbol of God’s Presence with them.


In today’s Gospel. Jesus also “restores” the Temple by driving out the merchants who have diverted the Temple’s purpose as representative of God’s Presence.


Our bodies too are temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians tells us:

Do you not know
that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

1 Corinthians 6:19

Through our Baptism into the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are called to be transformed by this Indwelling. As in any relationship, this transformation is accomplished through transparency, communication, listening and acting on behalf of the Beloved.


Poetry: Go Not to the Temple – Tagore

Go not to the temple to put flowers upon the feet of God,
First fill your own house with the Fragrance of love…

Go not to the temple to light candles before the altar of God,
First remove the darkness of sin from your heart…

Go not to the temple to bow down your head in prayer,
First learn to bow in humility before your fellowmen…

Go not to the temple to pray on bended knees,
First bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden. ..

Go not to the temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins,
First forgive from your heart those who have sinned against you.


Music: In the Temple Garden – Aaron Kenny

Beyond Measure

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
November 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray a lovely verse of Psalm 17:

The psalm is a gentle plea which might serve to soften our two dramatically intense readings.

Who can read the story of the Maccabean Martyrs without a mix of horror, empathy, and astonishment?

And don’t we all feel a pang of pity for the poor, fearful servant who hid his talent in a handkerchief much to the King’s displeasure?

The two stories, (one based in fact, the other a parable), paint a contrasting picture of courageous faith against fearful subservience. The difference between the actors lies in their capacity, or lack there of, to look beyond themselves toward eternal life.

Mother Maccabee bolsters her sons with her faith in a life beyond their current circumstances:

… the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man’s beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves
for the sake of his law.

2 Mc 7:23

The poor soul in Jesus’s parable doesn’t have that faith and vision. His perception of God, represented by the King, is one of only harsh judgement. His fear causes him to bury not only his talent, but also his openness to the possibilities of grace and transformed relationship with God.

Jesus told his parable because indeed the Kingdom was at hand. He and his disciples were near Jerusalem where the Passion, Death and Resurrection events would begin.

He wants his followers to realize the challenging gift they have been given in their call to be his disciples. He wants them to see that it is now on them to magnify his message courageously and generously until he returns to perfect the Kingdom.

Jesus wants us to understand that too.


Poetry: Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent – John Milton
Milton became blind in later life. The poem reflects his concerns about all that he has left undone in his life. Ultimately, Milton expresses the confidence that God has no need of his “talent”, only his steadfast faith.

When I consider how my light is spent, 

   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, 

   And that one Talent which is death to hide 

   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent 

To serve therewith my Maker, and present 

   My true account, lest he returning chide; 

   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?” 

   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent 

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need 

   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best 

   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state 

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed 

   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest: 

   They also serve who only stand and wait.”


Music:   Be Not Afraid – written by Bob Dufford, SJ, sung here by Cat Jahnke

Stretching to See God

November 16, 2021
Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 3 which well might reflect the prayer of noble Eleazar from our first reading:

You, O LORD, are my shield;
    my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
    he answers me from his holy mountain.
R.    The Lord upholds me.
When I lie down in sleep,
    I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
    arrayed against me on every side.

Psalm 3: 4-7

Eleazar’s faithful character is so strong that he can look beyond his present circumstance to:

… leave in his death a model of courage
and an unforgettable example of virtue
not only for the young but for the whole nation.

2 Mc 6:31

Both Eleazar’s story and Zaccheus’s are about living in the big picture of God’s vision for us. These stories invite us to stretch beyond ourselves to see God in our circumstances.

Eleazar was a giant in the virtues necessary to “see beyond the trees” of his current circumstances. A more spiritually short-sighted person might have succumbed to the temptation to save himself at the cost of his faith and witness.

But Eleazar’s faith was long, both in years and in depth. He kept the eyes of his heart focused on that faith and was delivered beyond any short-sighted choices.


In our Gospel, we meet Zaccheus who, due to his short stature, was unable to get a glimpse of Jesus walking nearby. He wasn’t getting the whole picture – but he desperately wanted to!


Sometimes we miss Christ in our midst, don’t we? It may be because we’re “short” on time, patience, faith, attention, courage, peace, desire … you name it.

Zaccheus may have been physically short, but he was tall in will and intention to see Jesus. The trees became his tools not his obstacles.


It’s hard sometimes to see the forest beyond the trees – to direct our choices, attitudes and actions by a vision we glimpse only on the tippy toes of faith and prayer.

Perhaps these two God-seekers can inspire us today, by their courage, steadfastness and faith, to always live within God’s long eternal vision for us.


Poetry: Walking on Tiptoe by Ted Kooser

Long ago we quit lifting our heels
like the others—horse, dog, and tiger—
though we thrill to their speed
as they flee. Even the mouse
bearing the great weight of a nugget
of dog food is enviably graceful.
There is little spring to our walk,
we are so burdened with responsibility,
all of the disciplinary actions
that have fallen to us, the punishments,
the killings, and all with our feet
bound stiff in the skins of the conquered.
But sometimes, in the early hours,
we can feel what it must have been like
to be one of them, up on our toes,
stealing past doors where others are sleeping,
and suddenly able to see in the dark.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel, sung here by Michael W. Smith

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

His word shall not fail you he promised
Believe him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

O soul are you weary and troubled
No light in the darkness you see
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

Be Generous Stewards

November 6, 2021
Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time 

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 145, the only psalm to be designated as “praise” in its superscription: A psalm of praise. Of David.

This is an intriguing psalm to be chosen for today’s readings which, at first glance, have little to do with “praise”.


Our reading from Romans is the closing chapter of Paul’s letter in which is listed a catalogue of early Christians movers and shakers. The names are of influential and generous people who joined Paul and used their resources to foster the Gospel. They were the stewards of our nascent faith and are accorded a timeless memorial in the epistle’s final chapter.(Notably, many of them are women who obviously played significant roles in the blossoming of the early Church.)


In our Gospel, Jesus explains the parable about the dishonest steward. The steward has been accused of squandering his master’s goods and is about to be fired. In order to rectify accounts, the steward rewrites customer receipts, balancing with his own commissions. That way, his master doesn’t prosecute him and his customers like him enough to consider him for the job he now needs.

The parable is about how to use our wealth of blessings in order to respond to God’s goodness to us. By our generosity for others, we also serve God.


So how does Psalm 145 fit in? When the core attitude of our life is one of thanksgiving and praise:

  1. we have the insight to recognize our true wealth, the blessings God has given us

Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
Whose greatness is unsearchable.

2. we look to our ancestors in faith as inspiration for generosity (people like those of 

Romans 16)

Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.

3. we draw grace from their example and from the eternal beauty of Creation

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Reign
and speak of your power.


Poetry: Hymns for the Amusement of Children – Hymn 21. Generosity by Christopher Smart, 1722 – 1771) a talented and controversial English religious poet. 

Christopher Smart’s poetry is notable for its visionary power, Christian ardor, and lyrical virtuosity from The Poetry Foundation: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/christopher-smart

That vast communicative Mind, 
That form'd the world and human kind, 
And saw that all was right; 
Or was Thyself, or came from Thee, 
Stupendous Generosity, 
Above all lustre bright.
 
" Not for themselves the bees prepare 
" Their honey, and the fleecy care, 
" Not for themselves are shorn: 
" Not for themselves the warblers build, 
" Not for themselves the lands are till'd, 
" By them that tread the corn." 

The Lord shed on the Holy Rood 
His infinitely gen'rous blood, 
Not for himself, but all; 
Yea e'en for them that pierc'd his side, 
In patient agony he died, 
To remedy the Fall. 

O highly rais'd above the ranks 
Of Angels — he cou'd e'en give thanks 
Self-rais'd, and self-renew'd — 
Then who can praise, and love, and fear 
Enough? — since he himself, 'tis clear, 
Is also Gratitude.

Music: Generous Giver – Vintage Worship

Becoming Saints

Monday, November 1, 2021
Feast of All Saints

Synaxis of All Saints – Anonymous Russian icon

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 24, an exultant song of praise and celebration whose opening lines leave no doubt of God’s overarching Supremacy

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, 
the world and all who dwell therein.
For it is God who founded it upon the seas
and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

Psalm 24: 1-2

The psalmist then asks and answers the burning question of all spiritual seekers: who may come into the presence of this Omnipotent Being? Who may live in Eternal Love?

Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord,
and who can stand in the holy place of God?
Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, 
who have not pledged themselves to falsehood, 
nor sworn by what is a fraud.
They shall receive a blessing from the Lord
and a just reward from the God of their salvation.

Psalm 24: 3-5

It is these successful seekers whom we celebrate today,
the ones already embraced in everlasting glory.

As we consider their lives, we might ask the further question: how did they do it; how did they achieve holiness.

John, in our second reading, says the key to holiness is to honor the gift already given to each of us at our creation and confirmed in our Baptism:

Beloved:
See what love God has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know God.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like God
for we shall see God as God truly is.
Everyone who shares this hope seeks a heart purified in God.


We honor all the Saints today, especially the multitudes whose names are unknown to us. They are the ones who lived lives of Beatitude among us, as our Gospel teaches. May they help us to learn the lessons of:

  • a liberated spirit
  • an unpretentious persistance
  • a hopeful endurance
  • a thirst for righteousness
  • a merciful and pure heart
  • a gentle peace-making
  • and a courageous pursuit of justice

These are the keys that will lift up the gates of Heaven for us, allowing the Holy One to make us holy:

Lift up your heads, O gates;
lift them high, O everlasting doors;
and the One who reigns in glory shall come in.

Psalm 24:7

Poetry: In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being – Denise Levertov 

Birds afloat in air’s current,
sacred breath? No, not breath of God,
it seems, but God
the air enveloping the whole
globe of being.
It’s we who breathe, in, out, in, the sacred,
leaves astir, our wings
rising, ruffled—but only saints
take flight. We cower
in cliff-crevice or edge out gingerly
on branches close to the nest. The wind
marks the passage of holy ones riding
that ocean of air. Slowly their wake
reaches us, rocks us.
But storm or still,
numb or poised in attention,
we inhale, exhale, inhale,
encompassed, encompassed.

Music: two songs for the big feast🤗

Psalm 24: Lift up your heads, ye gates – Georg Friedrich Handel
Sung by the Gramophone Chorus – Ghana


Give Us Clean Hands – Charlie Hall

Declare God’s Glory

October 28, 2021
Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

Photo by my talented Sister-in-Law

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19. Today’s beautiful verses alert us to the magnificence of the Heavens as a testament to God’s Glory:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
    and night to night imparts knowledge.

Psalm 19: 2-3

We might picture the psalmist, perhaps burdened, confused, or exhausted by the exigencies of daily life, walking outside under an October sky such as the ones we are given this time of year. The walk may have happened in a crystal blue Noon, or late under a black canopy sprayed with October’s meteor showers.

Photo by my talented Niece

Whatever the hour, that ancient psalmist’s heart is stilled in nature’s constant, silent yet resounding adoration of our Creator:

Not a word nor a discourse
    whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
    and to the ends of the world, their message.

Psalm 19: 4-5

Psalm 19, after today’s introductory stanzas, compares nature’s elegant and eternal balance to the perfection of God’s Law…

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.

Psalm 19:8

… Psalm 19
where the searching and cleansing sun
becomes an image of
the searching and cleansing Law.

C. S. Lewis: Reflections on the Psalms

On this Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, the Church uses Psalm 19 to describe the work of an Apostle. Like the heavens whose beauty and constancy declare God’s glory, the Apostle lives and preaches that Divine Elegance – that Law of Love perfected in Jesus Christ.

Paul, in our first reading from Ephesians, says that these Apostles lay the foundation for all of us to become – like Sacred Creation – “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Our Gospel recounts the calling of the first twelve of these “foundation builders”. But the call continues eternally. It comes to each of us.


Under the constant sun and other stars, that call to witness and declare God’s glory summons us to live a life that sings:

We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
with the glorious company of Apostles,
we praise you.

Today’s Alleluia Verse taken from the Te Deum

Poetry: Pied Beauty- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things – 
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
 
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; 
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. 
All things counter, original, spare, strange; 
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) 

      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; 
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 
                                Praise him.

Music: Benedictus – Karl Jenkins

Our Tender God

October 25, 2021
Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 68 which pictures a triumphant God, rising like the sun over the darkness of evil.

Arise, O God, and let your enemies be scattered;
let those who hate you flee.
Let them vanish like smoke when the wind drives it away; 
as the wax melts at the fire,
so let the wicked perish at your presence.

Psalm 68: 1-3

This psalm comforts us with a tender picture of God:

Protector of orphans, defender of widows,
the One who dwells in holiness,
who gives the solitary a home
and brings forth prisoners into freedom;
but the rebels shall live in dry places.

Psalm 68: 5-6

It is the same tenderness Paul presents in our first reading:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a spirit of adoption,
through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…

if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

And there we have the key line:
we are to live a life aligned with
the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.

And what will that kind of life look like? It will look like our merciful Jesus of today’s Gospel – who stepped out to see, comfort, and heal the suffering around him.

Jesus recognized the crippled woman as “an heir of God, and joint heir with him” to the fullness of life in God. We are called recognize ourselves and all of our sisters and brothers in the same way.


Poetry: WOMAN UN-BENT (LUKE 13:10–17) – by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

That Sabbath day as always
she went to the synagogue
and took the place assigned her
right behind the grill where,
the elders had concurred,
she would block no one’s view,
she could lean her heavy head,
and (though this was not said)
she’d give a good example to
the ones who stood behind her. 

That day, intent as always
on the Word (for eighteen years
she’d listened thus), she heard
Authority when Jesus spoke. 

Though long stripped
of forwardness,
she came forward, nonetheless,
when Jesus summoned her.
“Woman, you are free
of your infirmity,” he said. 

The leader of the synagogue
worked himself into a sweat
as he tried to bend the Sabbath
and the woman back in place. 

But she stood up straight and let
God’s glory touch her face.

Video: Jesus Heals the Bent-over Woman

If you’d still like a little music, this one seems to fit: Spirit Touch by Joseph Akins

Zap?

October 23, 2021
Saturday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 24 in which the psalmist expresses the heart’s deep longing for God:

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
    or who may stand in that holy place?
The one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
    who desires not what is vain.
Who shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
    a reward from God the savior.
Such is the race that seeks for God,
    that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.

Psalm 24: 5-6

But achieving those sinless hands and clean heart is not always an easy task. It takes a life focused on faith and rooted in love.

Jesus talks about that focus in today’s Gospel.

Jesus gives us a parable which, at first, appears to say, “Get your act together fast, or God might zap you.” From Jesus’s words, we can assume that some public disasters have recently occurred. Those in the gathered crowd are unnerved by these events.

Jesus uses that nervousness to talk about repentance. He tells the people that tragedy can make us wake up to the fact that life is fragile and fleeting. That awareness should make us want to use our time on earth well, to give glory to God.

The repentance Jesus encourages is not just a contrition, or turning from sin. It is an opening of the soul’s eyes to see our lives and circumstances as God sees them.

Is God going to zap us if we don’t have that kind of repentance? No, I think not.

God is always Mercy …
always, always Mercy.

With the parable of the fruitless fig tree, Jesus assures us that God is with us, giving us every grace and opportunity to bear spiritual fruit. God is patient and nurturing. But, in every human life, there is a limit to the time we have to respond.


Poetry: The Facts of Life – Pádraig Ó Tuama

That you were born
and you will die.

That you will sometimes love enough
and sometimes not.

That you will lie
if only to yourself.

That you will get tired.

That you will learn most from the situations
you did not choose.

That there will be some things that move you
more than you can say.

That you will live
that you must be loved.

That you will avoid questions most urgently in need of
your attention.

That you began as the fusion of a sperm and an egg
of two people who once were strangers
and may well still be.

That life isn’t fair.
That life is sometimes good
and sometimes better than good.

That life is often not so good.

That life is real
and if you can survive it, well,
survive it well
with love
and art
and meaning given
where meaning’s scarce.

That you will learn to live with regret.
That you will learn to live with respect.

That the structures that constrict you
may not be permanently constricting.

That you will probably be okay.

That you must accept change
before you die
but you will die anyway.

So you might as well live
and you might as well love.
You might as well love.
You might as well love.


Music: Calm the Soul – Poor Clares Galway

This Cup Is Your Life

October 17, 2021
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33 which

“proclaims the LORD as the one

in whom the righteous may place their trust and hope.”

James L. Mays: Psalms (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching)

Upright is the word of the LORD,
    and all his works are trustworthy.
God loves justice and right;
    of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those in awe,
    upon those who hope for God’s kindness,
To deliver them from death
    and preserve them in spite of famine.

Psalm 33: 4-5; 18-19

This is a good psalm to be reminded of as we encounter readings from Isaiah and Mark which sound almost Lenten in tone. Our psalm reminds us that, despite adverse appearances, God abides with us and fosters our well-being.


Isaiah gives us the image of a broken Jesus, crushed by a “suffering that justifies many”.

Christ as the Man of Sorrows – Albert Durer

Mark recounts the story of the two rather oblivious disciples asking to sit in glory beside Jesus. They do not realize that the path to this glory is through Gethsemane and Calvary.

Jesus asks these disciples the same question he asks us throughout our lives:

“Can you drink the cup that I will drink?”

Each of our sufferings and sacrifices may be small or large in life. But when they are united with Christ in faith and hope, they all are redemptive.

We will be asked, as Jesus was, to lay down our life in love. 

  • It may be in the unselfish raising of a family, or the humble pastoring of a church community. 
  • It may be in the long-term care of an elderly parent or neighbor. 
  • It may be in a ministry of healing, teaching, or encouragement where another requires our labor, patience and mercy. 
  • It may be as a public servant who actually serves, or as a private nurse who tenderly nurses. 
  • It may be as a community member who builds life by respect, responsibility, and mutuality.

We will come to realize, as did the ambitious sons of Zebedee, that true discipleship is not flash and glam. It is the daily choice to quietly lift the cup we have been given, and raise it to the honor of God – in openness, trust, joy and delight that we are called to share in the life of Christ.


Poetry: Can you Drink the Cup – Scott Surrency, OFM.Cap

Can you drink the cup?
Drink, not survey or analyze,
ponder or scrutinize –
from a distance.
But drink – imbibe, ingest,
take into you so that it becomes a piece of your inmost self.
And not with cautious sips
that barely moisten your lips,
but with audacious drafts
that spill down your chin and onto your chest.
(Forget decorum – reserve would give offense.)

Can you drink the cup?
The cup of rejection and opposition,
betrayal and regret.
Like vinegar and gall,
pungent and tart,
making you wince and recoil.
But not only that – for the cup is deceptively deep –
there are hopes and joys in there, too,
like thrilling champagne with bubbles
that tickle your nose on New Year’s Eve,
and fleeting moments of almost – almost – sheer ecstasy
that last as long as an eye-blink, or a champagne bubble,
but mysteriously satisfy and sustain.

Can you drink the cup?
Yes, you — with your insecurities,
visible and invisible.
You with the doubts that nibble around the edges
and the ones that devour in one great big gulp.
You with your impetuous starts and youth-like bursts of love and devotion.
You with your giving up too soon – or too late – and being tyrannically hard on yourself.
You with your Yes, but’s and I’m sorry’s – again.
Yes, you – but with my grace.

Can you drink the cup?

Can I drink the cup?

Yes.


Music: The Cup of Salvation ~Shane & Shane (Lyrics below.)

I love the Lord for He heard my voice
And answered my cry for mercy
Because He listened to me
I will call upon Him as long as I live

CHORUS

What shall I render to the Giver of life and who all things are made
What shall I render to the One who paints the oceans blue
Jesus Christ

I will lift up a cup of salvation
Call on the Name of the Lord
How do I repay the life that You gave
I’ll call on the Name of the Lord
Lift up a cup, You have already poured

What kind of rendering is found in this taking
Found in this drinking of love
Love so abundant He meets me in depravity
With one thing to give

CHORUS

You have delivered my soul from death
My eyes from tears
My feet from stumbling
And I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living

CHORUS

Grace … God’s Life in Us

Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time 
October 11, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98

God has made salvation known:
    in the sight of the nations revealing justice.
God has remembered mercy and faithfulness
    toward God’s People.

Psalm 98: 2-3

Indeed God has made salvation known through the gift of Sacred Scripture. And I feel so enthused about the next month’s prayer because, also today, we begin about a month of readings from Paul’s letter to the Romans. (We will also continue with Luke’s Gospel all the way up to Advent.)

Like the rest of Sacred Scripture, which has God for its transcendent author, Paul’s Letter to the Romans has a spiritual and theological depth that is literally inexhaustible.

Scott W. Hahn: Romans

In praying with Romans, I am using a book by Scott W. Hahn, Father Michael Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology at Steubenville University. In his introduction, Hahn says this:


Today’s reading offered me these elements to ponder and pray with:

  • Paul calls himself a “slave” of Jesus Christ
  • He invokes his call as an Apostle
  • He sets himself in the company of the prophets
  • He appeals to Jews who revere David
  • but proclaims Christ, through his Resurrection, as Messiah beyond human lineage
  • He proclaims his mission to the Gentiles
  • to bring about “the obedience of faith”

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve read or heard this passage maybe a hundred times in my lifetime, and it has meant little or nothing to me. At best, it has sounded like a formal introduction such as those we hear from government “whereas” type decrees.

But I took Dr. Hahn’s advice, studying the passage, and reading it slowly and prayerfully. Here’s what I received:

  • Paul’s Apostolic call, to which he willingly enslaved his heart, was to preach the Good News of our redemption in Jesus Christ – to preach it to Jews, Romans, Gentiles, and all people.
  • It is an awesomely incredible message that can be received only through the gift of faith.
  • It is a message rooted in the scripture stories we love, and where we look to find a reflection of our own life stories.
  • Learning from these realities will help us come to a faith which expresses itself in action and gives glory to God in our own time.


Luke gives us one such story today. Jesus reminds the crowd of two familiar passages – that of Jonah and the “Queen of the South” (the Queen of Sheba, 1 Kings 10).

Jesus indicates that the people in these stories
believed without a sign.


Jesus tells the people gathered around him  to learn from this. The crowd demands a sign, but Jesus says the sign is right in front of you – it is only your open heart that is lacking.

In his introduction, Paul prays for such open hearts in the Romans:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

By that same grace, may we receive faith’s blessing as well.


Poetry: The Avowal – Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding GRACE.

Music: Grace and Peace – Fernando Ortega