Entwined in Faith

Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
September 10, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091022.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, both Paul and Jesus caution their listeners to be single-hearted and resolute in their faith and practice.

Paul tells these early Corinthian Christians not to participate in dinners served at pagan temples. The meat at these meals had been sacrificed to idols so that to participate in the dinner appeared to give approbation to the idolatrous practice.

My beloved ones, avoid idolatry.
I am speaking as to sensible people;
judge for yourselves what I am saying.

….

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons.
You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.


Paul’s key message is that now this baptized community belongs to a new faith which worships one God through Jesus Christ. Their lives must witness this gift and commitment.

My beloved ones, avoid idolatry.
I am speaking as to sensible people;
judge for yourselves what I am saying.
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one Body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.


In our Gospel, Jesus describes that steadfast witness in terms of a tree. When we are truly knit into the love of God in Jesus Christ, we flourish with God’s own life.

A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

Each day, each moment, gives us the opportunity to root our lives deeply in our faith. We ask God for that sacred entwining – like a tree which reaches deep into the ground for life, or like a well-founded house whose bedrock is deep and stable.

I will show you what someone is like who comes to me,
listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like someone building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built.

Poetry: Love and Harmony – William Blake

This poem is often interpreted to describe the picture of a perfect marriage where love and harmony allow otherwise separate entities to “entwine”. However, Blake was, beyond a poet, a mystic. His poems almost always contain a central analogy of the human relationship with the Divine. I think this poem does as well and can be read as a type of prayer to be fully entwined with God, in love and harmony.

Love and harmony combine,
And round our souls entwine
While thy branches mix with mine,
And our roots together join.
Joys upon our branches sit,
Chirping loud and singing sweet;
Like gentle streams beneath our feet
Innocence and virtue meet.
Thou the golden fruit dost bear,
I am clad in flowers fair;
Thy sweet boughs perfume the air,
And the turtle buildeth there.
There she sits and feeds her young,
Sweet I hear her mournful song;
And thy lovely leaves among,
There is love, I hear his tongue.
There his charming nest doth lay,
There he sleeps the night away;
There he sports along the day,
And doth among our branches play.

Music: The Memory of Trees- Enya

Wisdom, please ….

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 4, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we continue to move into the final segments of Luke’s Gospel which we have been reading on Sundays throughout this liturgical year.

Today, the Church links three readings which, at first glance, might seem unrelated.

  • Our first reading from Wisdom reminds us of God’s infinite wisdom, incomprehensible to our human minds.
  • Paul, in his letter to Philemon, begs for the loving inclusion of Onesimus, an enslaved person, into the Colossian community.
  • In our Gospel, Jesus makes this harsh pronouncement:

If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.


How might we interpret these disparate passages to find a message of wholeness for our prayer?

Wis9_13 gods mind

Let’s start with Jesus. In no uncertain terms, he challenges his disciples to move out of their small worlds into God’s big world. That Godly world is not defined by family, nor by any condition other than our common Creaturehood in God … not by:

word gram

Jesus says the sacred community is defined only by shared and irrevocable commitment to the Gospel of love and mercy.


Paul knows and loves Onesimus, the slave, as a brother in this community. In his letter, Paul encourages Philemon to do the same.


Sometimes as human beings, filled with all kinds of insecurities, we tend to build enclaves that make us feel safe. We like to be with “our kind”. We invent borders to filter out those whose differences we don’t understand. We allow fear to grow with that lack of understanding. Within the enclosure of our self-protectionism, we eventually forget that we are all one, equal, precious, beautiful and beloved by God.

Such toxic attitudes are the soil for slavery, war, ethnic cleansing, racial supremacy, human trafficking, destructive nationalism, and all the other sacrileges committed by humans against the human family.

Wisdom reminds us that only God can open
the tight circle of our fears, judgments and isolations
– only God whose infinite love encompasses all.
Jesus tells us that we find that love
only by lifting up the cross and following him.

Wisdom tells us to put it in God’s hands, and to respond to God’s challenge in the preaching of Jesus Christ.

Who can know your way of thinking, O God
… except you give us wisdom

 and send your Holy Spirit from on high
 thus stretching the hearts of those on earth

Today I pray, may God do this for me,
and for all our tight, convoluted
and troubled world.


Poetic Prayer of Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen (c. 1098 – 17 September 1179), was a German Benedictine abbess and polymath active as a writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary, and as a medical writer and practitioner during the High Middle Ages. She is one of the best-known composers of sacred monophony, as well as the most recorded in modern history. She has been considered by scholars to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.

I am Wisdom. 
Mine is the blast of the resounding Word 
through which all creation came to be, 
and I quickened all things with my breath 
so that not one of them is mortal in its kind; 
for I am Life.

Indeed I am Life, whole and undivided 
-- not hewn from any stone, 
or budded from branches, 
or rooted in virile strength; 
but all that lives has its root in Me.
 
For Wisdom is the root 
whose blossom is the resounding Word....
I flame above the beauty of the fields 
to signify the earth 
-- the matter from which humanity was made.

I shine in the waters to indicate the soul, 
for, as water suffuses the whole earth, 
the soul pervades the whole body. 

I burn in the sun and the moon to denote Wisdom, 
and the stars are the innumerable words of Wisdom.

Music: Who Has Known (an Advent hymn, but perfect I think for today’s readings)

Alleluia: Poppin’ Good Faith

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great,
Pope and Doctor of the Church
Saturday, September 2, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090322.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings encourage us to live a Spirit-inspired faith rather than one of appearances.

At first, I found our first reading uninspiring. So I did a little research which helped me to appreciate that 1 Corinthians shows us a “toddler Church” trying to discover itself. 

Paul is her teacher, but Paul is not always with her. Other influences, theories and even conspiracies can influence her emerging self-awareness. Some of these influences might include those who think they are in charge, and begin to set rules and roles for the early Church’s life without Paul’s direction.

In today’s passage from Corinthians, Paul uses a lot of sarcasm to warn the community not to get ahead of themselves in shaping their faith community. He wants them not to rely on structures and functions but on the uncontainable power of the Holy Spirit to inspire and create a path for God’s love and mercy in the world.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that everything they have they received. They are not to feel entitled by their gifts but humble, grateful and open to his apostolic teaching and example.

Brothers and sisters:
Learn from myself and Apollos not to go beyond what is written,
so that none of you will be inflated with pride
in favor of one person over against another.
Who confers distinction upon you?
What do you possess that you have not received?
But if you have received it,
why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?

Jesus is saying the same thing to the Pharisees in our Gospel today. They boast that they are the arbiters and interpreters of the faith.

But faith is not about refraining from corn-picking on the Sabbath! We make rules like this because we are afraid of the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us. So instead, we push God’s Spirit into the confines of a corn husk where we are safe from God’s transformative call that might upset our comfort.

Jesus tells the Pharisees to be like David. Although not faultless, David got it! He lived a life of passionate love for and relationship with God which refused to be confined by imposed definitions.

David and the Temple Bread

Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you not read what David did
when he and those who were with him were hungry?
How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering,
which only the priests could lawfully eat,
ate of it, and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”


Surely there are lessons here for our own Church as we are invited to transformation by the Gospel and by the inspired teaching of Pope Francis. Like Jesus, he is a breaker of corn husks and some are frightened by the charismatic challenges he places before us.

Our Verse assures us that by opening our hearts to the Gospel’s call, we will find true life.

Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the fullness of God except through me.


Poetry: TO LIVE WITH THE SPIRIT – Jessica Powers

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.
It is to keep the vigil of mystery,
earthless and still.
One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit,
strange as the wind’s will.
The soul that walks where the wind of the Spirit blows
turns like a wandering weather-vane toward love.
It may lament like Job or Jeremiah,
echo the wounded hart, the mateless dove.
It may rejoice in spaciousness of meadow
that emulates the freedom of the sky.
Always it walks in waylessness, unknowing;
it has cast down forever from its hand
the compass of the whither and the why.
To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover.
It is becoming love, and like to Him
toward Whom we strain with metaphors of creatures:
fire-sweep and water-rush and the wind’s whim.
The soul is all activity, all silence;
and though it surges Godward to its goal,
it holds, as moving earth holds sleeping noonday,
the peace that is the listening of the soul.

In Place of Music: John Michael Talbot speaking on today’s Gospel

And a beautiful song for your quiet:

Alleluia: Call to Discipleship

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
September 1, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings lead us to consider our call.

Lk5_11 leftJPG

The call to discipleship comes to us within the other calls of our life: the call to be a good parent, spouse, sibling, child. It comes in the call to be a moral, values-driven employer; an honest, hard-working employee; a supportive, engaged co-worker. Christ asks us to mirror him as neighbor, friend, colleague, and citizen.

In whatever skill or profession we practice, Christ asks us to exercise it as he would – to choose, judge and behave as he would.


In our Gospel, the first disciples are astonished at the miracle of the fishes. Like a lightening bolt, that astonishment transforms their world view. They now see Christ as the Center of their lives. They drop their nets on the seashore. They leave everything to follow him.


What is it that we must leave to make Christ the center of our lives? What nets are we caught in that keep us from freeing the call within us?

We are challenged by a world filled with the entanglements of greed, destructive power, aggression, bigotry, lies, and political & social pretense. How much have these infected the purity of our desire to follow Jesus?


Poetry: On St. Peter Casting Away His Nets at Our Saviour’s Call – Richard Crashaw

Thou hast the art on't Peter; and canst tell 
To cast thy Nets on all occasions well. 
When Christ calls, and thy Nets would have thee stay: 
To cast them well's to cast them quite away.

Music: Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore- Caesareo Gabarain

Lord, You have come to the seashore
Neither searching for…the rich nor the wise,…
desiring only…that I should follow
Refrain:
O Lord, with your eyes set upon me,
gently smiling, you have spoken my name;
all I longed for I have found by the water.
At your side, I will seek other shores.

Lord, see my goods, my possessions;
in my boat you find…no power, no wealth…
Will you accept then…my nets and labor?

Lord,…take my hands and direct them
Help me spend myself in seeking the lost,…
returning love for…the love you gave me.

Lord,…as I drift on the waters…
be the resting place…of my restless heart,…
my life’s companion,…my friend and refuge.

Alleluia: The Prophet

Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist
Monday, August 29, 2022

John the Baptist – Caravaggio

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082922.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those who are persecuted
for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we commemorate the Passion of John the Baptist who, besides Mary, was the greatest saint embracing both the Old and the New Testaments.

When I was young, the memorial was simply referred to as “The Beheading of John the Baptist”. The term “passion” captures its meaning so much more clearly:

  • it inclines us to realize the similarities between John’s passion and death and that of Jesus.
  • it shifts the power of the event to John, who chose his fate by the courage of his witness, rather than to see Herod, the “beheader”, as the agent of the story.

John’s whole prophetic life was part of his “passion”. It inevitably led him to this ultimate confrontation with evil.


Walter Bruggemann, in his transformational book “The Prophetic Imagination” writes about prophets. He indicates that prophets emerge in the context of “totalism” – those paralyzing systems which attempt to control and dominate all freedom and possibility.

Totalism kills ideas, hope, freedom, choice, self-determination, and creativity for the sake of controlling reality for its own advantage. Totalism is the ultimate “abusive relationship“.


Brueggemann defines the prophet as one engaged in these three tasks:

  • the prophet is clear on the force and illegitimacy of the totalism.
  • the prophet pronounces the truth about the force of the totalism that contradicts the purpose of God.
  • the prophet articulates the alternative world that God has promised, and that God is actually creating within the chaos around us.

Every age requires prophets because every age is infected with “Herods” trying to thwart God’s reign of love, mercy, truth, freedom, and joy. In our own time, the poison of totalism is quite evident in those systems fueled by racism, militarism, financial duplicity, desecration of the earth, and the sad array of other ideologies that cripple humanity.

Today, as we pray with this great saint, may we be inspired to respond to our own prophetic call – to be prophetic signs of love, mutual reverence, joy, Gospel justice, holy encouragement and lavish mercy for our world.


Poetry: On Reason and Passion – Rabindranath Tagore

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion.
     And he answered, saying:
     Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgement wage war against your passion and your appetite. 
     Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.
     But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

     Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
     If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
     For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
     Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
     And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

     I would have your consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.
     Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

     Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields, and meadows—then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”
     And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,—then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
     And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

Music: I think of this song by Simon and Garfunkel as the modern day song of John the Baptist.

Alleluia: Wise or Foolish?

Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
August 26, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082622.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray,
that you may have the strength 
to stand before your God.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are full of dichotomies and contrasts to help us understand the Truth.

Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God
the world did not come to know God through wisdom,
it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation
to save those who have faith.

1 Corinthians 1: 20-21

The core of Paul’s eloquent lesson is this:
Worldly wisdom = foolishness 
Heavenly foolishness = true wisdom

Reading this passage, we might feel like we’re back in our Logic 101 class in college. But remember, Paul is preaching to a Greek audience, inheritors of Socratic and Aristotelian language. They would be fascinated and moved by Paul’s presentation style.


Us? Maybe not so much. We might prefer the storytelling technique Jesus used to get the same point across.

The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 

Matthew 25:3-4

Jesus’s lesson:
Foolish virgins = no oil = can’t find Lord
Wise virgins = refreshed oil = find Lord easily

Our Alleluia Verse captures the essence of all our readings for us:

Pay attention to your spiritual life.

  • Keep the Light lit.
  • Don’t be fooled by the world’s false logic.
  • In Christ, we live by the true logic and light of the Cross and Resurrection 

Prose: Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel – The Logic of Faith: A Buddhist Approach to Finding Certainty Beyond Belief and Doubt

But if you are not careful, 
spirituality can quite easily allow you 
to bypass the human dilemma, 
because spirituality can be 
anything you want it to be, 
whereas faith will challenge you. 
It’s not so comfortable. 
It carries with it the undeniable tension 
between your search for security 
and the limits of your ability to know. 
Faith keeps your spiritual quest relevant 
and connected to the heart 
of the human predicament.


Music: Fool’s Wisdom – Malcolm and Alayna

Got myself some wisdom

From a leather-back book

Got myself a Savior

When I took a second look

Opened up the pages

And what did I find

A black and white portrait

Of a King Who’s a friend of mine

Funny how when you think you’re right

Everybody else must be wrong

Till someone with fool’s wisdom

Somehow comes along

His voice is strange and the words He said

I didn’t quite understand

Yet I knew that He was speaking right

By the leather-back book in His hand

Hey, hey

What a day

Fool’s wisdom

Hey, hey

What a day

Fool’s wisdom

Got myself some wisdom

From a leather-back book

Got myself a Savior

When I took a second look

Alleluia: The Fig Tree

Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
August 24, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082422.cfm

Jn 1_48 fig

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Apostle Bartholomew, also known as Nathaniel. As with many of the Apostles, little is known of Bartholomew’s life outside of a few Gospel stories. John’s Gospel tells the wonderful story of Nathaniel’s call by Christ.

The encounter is a very personal one. Jesus and Nathaniel share a conversation that must have impressed the other listeners because it was remembered and recounted word for word in the Gospel.

One exchange, in particular, carries deep significance for Nathaniel. Jesus says that there is no duplicity, or pretense, in Nathaniel. There is a transparency in him shared even with God. Nathaniel wonders out loud , “How do you know me?” Jesus answers, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

Saint Bartholomew – El Greco

What was going on with Nathaniel under that fig tree? A moment of intense prayer, questioning, decision, doubt, hope? Whatever it was, Jesus had shared it, even at a distance. When Nathaniel realizes this, his faith in Jesus and vocation to follow Him are confirmed. Nathaniel professes, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”


Where are the fig trees in your life story — those moments when, looking back, you realize that God was with you even though seeming distant?

What have been the turning points in your faith, when you came out from under the shadow of a challenging experience, to the grateful amazement that God had accompanied you through it?

What are those pivotal, intimate moments when it was just you and God – those transparent moments that changed your life?

If you can’t recall any such moments, perhaps you are not giving yourself the time and space to let God reach you.

It might be time to seek out a “fig tree” – a place of spiritual solitude where you may speak honestly and directly to God about the most important things in your life. Open your heart, like Nathaniel, to hear what God already knows about you.

Poetry: The Banyan Tree – Rabindranath Tagore

O you shaggy-headed banyan tree
standing on the bank of the pond,
have you forgotten the little child,
like the birds that have
nested in your branches and left you?

Do you not remember
how he sat at the window
and wondered at
the tangle of your roots
plunged underground?

The women would come
to fill their jars in the pond,
and your huge black shadow
would wriggle on the water
like sleep struggling to wake up.

Sunlight danced on the ripples
like restless tiny shuttles
weaving golden tapestry
Two ducks swam by the weedy margin
above their shadows, and
the child would sit still and think.

He longed to be the wind
and blow through your resting branches,
to be your shadow and
lengthen with the day on the water,
to be a bird and perch
on your topmost twig, and to float like
those ducks among the weeds and shadows.


Forest Lake with Boy Fishing – Alfred Wahlberg

Music: The Memory of Trees – Enya (Some lyrical New Age music to listen to under your fig tree!)

Alleluia: Blessed

Memorial of Saint Clare
August 11, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/0811-memorial-saintclare.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we’ll pray with the readings for St. Clare of Assisi. Clare, like Francis, was a luminous prophet of the Christian era.

Clare of Assisi (born Chiara Offreduccio, 16 July 1194 – 11 August 1253) was an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Francis of Assisi. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies, a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition, and wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman.

Wikipedia

By the life Clare lived, she gave testimony to a sacred reality which continues to enrich the life of the Church.

As I learned about Clare, I discovered a woman who was original and innovative in her own right. She was profoundly mystical and charismatic, unyielding and radical in her commitment to poverty; a model of servant leadership; determined despite years of ailing health; courageous in the face of danger. In short, she was a saint…with or without Francis.

Bret Thoman, O.F.S., – an American Catholic lay writer, secular third order Franciscan. His latest book is St. Clare of Assisi: Light from the Cloister

Today before I wrote this reflection, our own Mercy Sister Clare was buried. As our sisters are carried to the cemetery, the death knell slowly tolls out over the whole surrounding neighborhood. Some may hear it as a solemn reminder as did the poet John Donne:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Instead, I choose to hear the hallowed sound as a salute to one who understood and chose what is most important in life:

Happy the soul to whom it is given to attain this life with Christ, 
to cleave with all one’s heart to him
whose beauty all the heavenly hosts behold forever,
whose love inflames our love,
the contemplation of whom is our refreshment,
whose graciousness is our delight,
whose gentleness fills us to overflowing,
whose remembrance makes us glow with happiness,
whose fragrance revives the dead,
the glorious vision of whom will be the happiness
of all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.
For he is the brightness of eternal glory,
the splendor of eternal light,
the mirror without spot.
Clare of Assisi

Our Gospel today reinforces the lesson that a life given fully to Christ and the Gospel, as was both these precious Clare’s, is returned to the giver a hundredfold:

Peter said to Jesus,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.”


Music: Let the Love That Dwells in Your Hearts

Let the love that dwells in your hearts shine forth in your deeds. (St. Clare)

Alleluia:Faith and Hope

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 7, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080722.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are taught about the nature of faith and hope. 

Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake and be ready!
For you do not know 
on what day your Lord will come.

Our readings today are long, complex, and rich. Trying to pray with them this morning brought an image to mind.


Like many Dads, mine both loved and hated putting the lights on the Christmas tree. No matter how carefully he had stored them the previous year, those endless wires and tiny bulbs managed to morph into a ball of frustration when he opened the box.

But Dad persevered because he knew what the end result would be. After a few hours, when he finally leaned over to plug in his work, the whole family all held our breath both in anticipation and trepidation. That was because, most of time, nothing happened… no lights. Zilch.

Dad would then exclaim a litany over the fragile mess – one that I was prohibited from repeating. This chant signaled that we all immediately join in testing every single bulb to find the culprit which had caused the blackout. Ah! Family Christmas rituals!


Well, I think today’s readings are like those labyrinthine lights. Each passage contains a string of bulbs that must be twisted and turned over in our prayer to help us discover their illumination.

The central current for me is this: faith is a relationship, long and unbreakable. Even if a bulb goes out every now and again, keep searching for the energy and light, just as our foremothers and fathers did.

Our faith and hope are rooted in that sacred heritage:

In the ancient faith of Moses:

The night of the passover was known beforehand to our ancestors,
that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith,
they might have courage.

In the trusting songs of David

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

In the grounding insights of Paul

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen. 

And in the promise of Jesus to those who remain faithful

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”


Our readings assure us that, for those who hope and believe, there is no doubt what the end result will be. Our faith will be blessed by the glorious light of God.

Prose from Richard Rohr:

Music:

Alleluia: God’s Splendor

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
August 6, 2022

Today’s Readings: 

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080622.cfm

Today, in God’ Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
This is my beloved Son,
with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.

Peter, James, and John – those whom the Lord would most heavily depend on at the time of the Crucifixion – these three were given a sacred privilege. They witnessed Christ transformed by his Divinity, shining before the Creator whose voice came down from heaven.

transfiguration

Icon of Transfiguration by Alexander Ainetdinov

Peter’s account in today’s second reading might seem almost too much to believe. Yet, Peter’s very human telling of the event is most convincing. He doesn’t wax eloquent about how privileged the three were. He simply describes the event and says, “We were terrified.” — as indeed we all might be if we came face to face with God’s glory.

Perhaps they received this gift in order to bolster them through the Passion and Death of Christ, or to open their hearts to believe in the Resurrection. These men were the key leaders who would pick up the message of Jesus when it appeared to fall to the earth at the foot of Cross. They needed a deeply confirmed faith.

So do we. We face a lot of faith-sapping realities in our world. And God does give us “Transfiguration Moments” too – times when the thin veil of hard reality is lifted and we glimpse the face of God. These moments may come at the birth of a child, the devotion of a beloved, the majesty of nature, the simplicity of silence, the deliverance from harm, the momentary awareness that our breath belongs to God.

We must savor and store these Lights, like the three disciples did, to strengthen ourselves for the shadows. As Peter says in his epistle:

… we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.


Poetry: Transfiguration – Malcolm Guite

For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

Music: Transfiguration by Carey Landry

We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of Jesus.
We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of the Son.
And oh, how his beauty transforms us, the wonder of presence abiding.
Transparent hearts give reflection of Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.
Jesus, Lord of Glory, Jesus, Beloved Son, oh, how good to be with you;
how good to share your light; how good to share your light.