Psalm 60: Punch Drunk with Troubles

Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 22, 2020


It has been suggested that I make it easier to find previous reflections on the readings for the day, just in case you would like to pray with the First Reading or Gospel. I’ll try to remember to do that.


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 60, and it’s a doozy. It is a hard Psalm to pray with because it contains many layers of meaning. But, in the end, I think it is worth the effort.

The Psalm emerges from a time filled with violence. David struggles to keep control both within and outside his kingdom. His own son and nephew turn against him. His nephew wreaks unspeakable mayhem in Israel’s name. Everything in David’s world is in violent disarray. He actually whines to God about the mess:

  • O God, you have rejected us and broken our defenses …
  • You have rocked the country and split it open …
  • You have made your people feel hardships …
  • You have given us stupefying wine…

Like many of you, I read these verses in the wake of another divisive political rally, in a country riven by fearful hatred, racism, biased brutality, political corruption, and poisonous propaganda. I am so tempted to immediately tie Psalm 60 to these current realities.

But I think that, when we pray the psalms, we must let them first teach us about ourselves. Once that conversion or enlightenment occurs, it may then be possible to apply their wisdom to our world.


King David by Matthias Stom

What is it that makes Psalm 60 a prayer and not a political manifesto? We find the answer in verse 7:

Help us with your right hand, O Lord, and answer us.

David realizes that he is completely out of whack. He has just put all the responsibility for his chaos in God’s lap when it is really David’s own self-serving choices that have caused the problem. 

David’s selfish, short-sighted, and sinful decisions have blinded him like “stupefying wine”. One might say he has drunk his own kool-aid. He needs God’s justice to detoxify him … that divine “right hand” which created a perfectly balanced world.

Each of David’s previously mentioned “whines” is completed with a sincere and contrite plea:

  • rally us!
  • repair the cracks in the country
  • give us aid against the foe

Once we realize, like David:

  • that the “country” is our own heart,
  • that the “foe” is any residue there of injustice, 
  • and that the “rally” must be of our own merciful love,

… only then might we be ready to pray for our fractured country and our broken, weeping world.


Poetry: Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front – Wendell Berry’s inspired poem about conversion and recovery of the soul in a soul-killing culture.

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready-made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head. 
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
 
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you 
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something 
that won't compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor. 
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias. 
Say that your main crop is the forest 
that you did not plant, 
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. 
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees 
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion — put your ear 
close, and hear the faint chattering 
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful 
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child? 
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 

Go with your love to the fields. 
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.

As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn't go.

Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction. 
Practice resurrection.

Music: Be Still My Soul – Exultate Singers

Psalm 16: A Night Prayer

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Click here for readings

psalm16 path2

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once again with Psalm 16. Verses 1-10 strike me as a perfect “nighttime” prayer.

In his musical Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Weber lyricizes about the “beauty of the night”.  

It’s a soulful song, and in itself could be used for prayer, especially when we pray in times of spiritual darkness or unknowing. In many ways, it reminds me of John of the Cross’s poem, “The Dark Night”. (Verses below for our poetry today).


All of us have times when our prayer seems to echo back to us without a response from God. Our faith may be tested and our trust stretched very thin. God seems so distant that we wonder what happened to cloud the relationship! We linger in a spiritual darkness that is dry and disconcerting.

Dali John of Cross
Christ of St. John of the Cross by Salvador Dali (1951) – Kenmore Art Gallery, Glasgow

These times in the spiritual life were experienced and described by writers like John of the Cross and the author of “The Cloud of Unknowing”. They are times when our experiences and prayer invite us to a new and deeper understanding of God. They ask us to let go of our intellectual certainties and abandon ourselves to God without demands.


Recently, while describing how disappointed he was in God, a friend told me that he had “lost” his faith long ago. Well, obviously, he hadn’t because he still held expectations of the “God” who was disappointing him. I told him that I had lost my faith a few times too, and that every time I got it back, it was new and deeper than the one I had lost. My “septuagenarian God” is very different from the one I came to follow when I was eighteen!


Our minds and souls are so small next to God’s Infinity. But slowly, through a life of prayerful fidelity and loving service, God stretches our capacity to know and return a Love which is beyond reason.

But the stretching times can be dark – times when Psalm 16 is a comforting prayer.

I like to pray with this transliteration by Steven Mitchell – A Book of Psalms

Unnamable God,
I feel you with me at every moment.
You are my food, my drink,
my sunlight, and the air I breathe.
You are the ground I have built on
and the beauty that rejoices my heart. 

I give thanks to you at all times
for lifting me from my confusion,
for teaching me in the dark
and showing me the path of life. 

I have come to the center of the universe;
I rest in your perfect love.
In your presence there is fullness of joy
and blessedness forever and ever.

Music: Path of Life – The Dameans

Poetry: The Dark Night – Stanzas Of The Soul

( Some people find John of the Cross surprising, if not strange or shocking, in his imagery. He was a grace-filled mystic and poet whose images of God expanded beyond the boundaries we might be accustomed to. And that very extravagance is John’s beauty — he invites us to a place we might not otherwise think to go.)

1. One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
— ah, the sheer grace! —
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

2. In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
— ah, the sheer grace! —
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

3. On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

4. This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
— him I knew so well —
there in a place where no one appeared.

5. O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.

6. Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.

7. When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

8. I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

Psalm 71: From My Youth ’til Now

Saturday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

June 6, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 71.

Psalm 71_16

This is the psalm of someone who has loved God all their lives. Theirs is a proven love, a long faithfulness.

O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.


As we look back over our own lives in humility and gratitude, we might speak a similar prayer.

Some of us have been blessed with an early faith that has illuminated every page of our life story. Some of us have come by it a little harder, or a little later, or with frequent clouds around our light.

But we are still here praying, aren’t we – still reaching, like the psalmist, for God’s steadying hand.

My mouth shall be filled with your praise,
with your glory day by day.
Cast me not off in my old age;
as my strength fails, forsake me not.


The psalmist’s enduring relationship with God is rooted in this understanding: that every moment of our lives reveals the face of a just and merciful God. Our part is to believe and trust enough to discover that Face and reveal it to others.

But I will always hope
and praise you ever more and more.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.


king harpThe psalmist promises to witness to God’s faithfulness by singing with the lyre. In his letter today, Paul charges Timothy to do the same thing (sans lyre):

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word;
be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient …


In our Gospel, Jesus says that the proclamation of our faith must be sincere, generous, and humble, never used to politicize and advance our stature over others, or as a tool for our personal aggrandizement:

scribeBeware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext,
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.

 


Oh, so many modern applications come to mind regarding this advice! But, for today, let’s just examine our own hearts.

Music: Psalm 71 – Jason Silver


Poetry: For Light
 by John O’Donohue

Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns into life.

In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.

That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.

That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.

When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.

That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.

When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.

When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.

When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.

As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the fields of memory.

And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found word.

Eternal Life: I Like It!

Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 24, 2020

Click here for readings

John 17_3 eternalJPG

Today, in Mercy, Jesus defines for us what it means to have eternal life. And the parameters of that definition are so far beyond our limited perceptions — at least mine.


The first time I heard the phrase “eternal life”, I was a three-year-old staring up at the edge of my grandmother’s casket. In those days, family members were “waked” at home for three days. Before Father Connolly came to say a few prayers, I had been lifted up to see Grandmom, icy white in her pretty blue gown, definitely in a sleep I had never seen before.

girl blue
Later, as the priest intoned blessings over her, I was too little to see over that casket’s edge, so I wondered if she might already have left to find eternal life when he mentioned it. I hoped she could take the blue dress with her because she looked so pretty in it.

 


Thus began my lifelong quest to understand where Grandmom had gone and to insure this elusive “eternal life” for myself someday. My early catechism lessons presented  a “Plant Now – Reap Later” view of eternal life.  Remember this from the Baltimore Catechism?

  1. Why did God make you?
  2. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

( However, I prefer this verion of the query which I heard recently.  When asked why God made her, a little girl responded, “Because He thought I’d like it!”)


Still as a result of our early catechesis, many of us consider “eternal life” a future state achieved after death or perhaps not until the Second Coming.

In today’s reading, and throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus begs to differ.

byrneBrendan Byrne, SJ, New Testament scholar, when describing the Prologue of John’s Gospel, says this:
(The central notion of John’s Gospel is this…) The entire life of Jesus Christ will be a playing out, in the field of time, of the divine communion of love that exists between the Father and the Son. Played out in the human sphere, it will be accessible to human beings, so that they, as “children of God”, may be drawn into Jesus’ filial communion of love with the Father and so come to share the divine eternal life.

In other words, as we deepen in our relationship with Christ, we deepen in divine and eternal life. For those whose life is anchored in faith, we rejoice in eternal life now as well as forever.


brownRaymond E. Brown, premier Johannine scholar, says that we find this “eternal life” in the ordinary stuff of our human life, transformed by the sacramental touch of the Incarnate Christ:

We must stress that the Johannine Jesus is not engaged in cosmetic improvement of the quality of life on earth, offering more abundant water and food, with sharper vision and a longer span of years. From another world come his gifts, even if confusingly they bear the same names that our language gives to what we so eagerly seek on earth: food, light, and life. In reality, however, his gifts go beyond anything we could hope for, satisfying needs we scarcely knew we had and doing so permanently.


May we see every aspect of our lives in this sacred light, convinced in our hearts that God made us “because He thought we’d like it”, and wanting to share eternal life with us right now and forever.

Music:  O Love of God, How Strong and True – written by  Horatius Bonar (1808-1889),
(sung here by Washington National Cathedral Choir who sang it as well at President Reagan’s funeral in 2004.)

O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal, and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.

O love of God, how deep and great!
Far deeper than man’s deepest hate;
Self-fed, self-kindled like the light,
Changeless, eternal, infinite.

O heavenly love, how precious still,
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort, and to bless!

O wide embracing, wondrous love!
We read thee in the sky above,
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell, and streams that flow.

We read thee best in him who came
To bear for us the cross of shame;
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die.

We read thy power to bless and save,
Even in the darkness of the grave;
Still more in resurrection light
We read the fulness of thy might.

O love of God, our shield and stay
Through all the perils of our way!
Eternal love, in thee we rest,
For ever safe, for ever blest.

 

Asking for a Friend…

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 23, 2020

Click here for readings

john6_29 Ask

Today, in Mercy, Jesus once again instructs his disciples to pray “in my Name”.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
Until now you have not asked anything in my name;
ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

What does Jesus really mean by,:

“Ask in My Name”.


There is an idiomatic phrase popular in culture today, “just asking for a friend”. It is used when the questioner feels embarrassed or unsure about the question, or unworthy of posing it oneself, for example: Can you really go to jail for not paying your taxes, just asking for a friend?


What might happen if we prayed like this, taking Jesus seriously in his offer to intervene for us, to stand in the place of our fear, hesitation, confusion, or unworthiness:

  • Dear God, please forgive me for this sinful choice I made. I ask you in the Name of Jesus, my friend.
  • Dear God, will you please comfort my dear one who is suffering. I ask you in the Name of Jesus, my friend.
  • Dear God, will you please intervene to stop the suffering in the world. I ask you in the Name of Jesus, my friend.

How would the addition of this little phrase change my prayer?


magic

The words are not a magic formula for working miracles. They won’t allow us to cure the sick or raise the dead in visible ways. But they will allow us to heal ourselves and others in ways beyond human calculation.

I think the words are a key to unlock our understanding that when we pray in the Name of Jesus, the miracle happens in us, not in our surroundings.


150 cross

We realize that Jesus, in whose Name we pray, changed the world not by magic but by sacrificial love. Becoming his friend and praying in his name demands that we too live our experiences with that kind of unquestioning love.

Such love unveils the glorious mystery of the Cross to us. Even under its shadow, we see through to the triumph of the Resurrection as Jesus did. 

Certainly, suffering was not removed from Jesus’ life nor from that of his followers.

But what was given was abiding faith, hope, love, and the trustworthy promise of eternal life.

Let’s ask for these precious gifts, in the Name of Jesus.

Music: In Jesus’ Name I Pray – Charley Pride
(Lyrics below)

In Jesus’ Name I Pray

Father give me strength, to do what I must do.
Father give me courage, to say what I must say.
Let that spirit move me.
I’m nothing on my own.
Father stand by me, I can not stand alone, in Jesus name I pray.

Father open up my eyes to your wonders all around.
Father let me see the good and beauty of this day.
Fill my heart with love, for my fellow man.
And if I’m tempted Father.

Father take my hand, in Jesus name I pray.
Father help me through the troubled days that lie ahead.
Let your life stand before me, that I may find a way.
So let me stumble Father, or fall beneath my load.

Father guide my footsteps.
Hold me to the road, in Jesus name I pray.
Let not hunger be my guide, nor fear be my master.
Father let not envy, be a part of me in any way.

Father search my soul, take away my fear and doubt.
Any moment that you find this,
Father cast it out, in Jesus name I pray.
Ah ah ah Amen.

 

 

We’ll Meet Again

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 22, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Jesus acknowledges the difficulty of living a Christian life in a hostile world, especially without his physical presence to lead the disciples.

John16_22 separation

He knows that his friends are anguished at the thought of being separated from him. He compares their heartbreak to the pain of a mother in labor. The comparison is a perfect one because labor pains yield a gift that washes away the memory of suffering:

… when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.

Jesus tries to comfort his followers with this analogy, but he doesn’t deny the sorrow they are experiencing. Jesus knows that separation from what we dearly love can be a crushing experience. He knows that change often carries unwanted loss.

joys and sorrows

Our lives are braided into this cycle of labor, birth, love, loss, sorrow and joy. Jesus assures us that if we live this cycle in faith and hope, all things return to him in glory:

But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.

At those times in our lives when we feel more the absence than the presence of God, (perhaps these pandemic days), remembering the endurance and bravery of others may help us. Although it’s not a religious song, this melody kept playing itself in my heart as I read today’s Gospel. It opened my spirit to a very comforting prayer time.

Music: We’ll Meet Again – Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Margaret Lynn Welch, CH,DBD, OStJ, age 103, is a British singer of traditional popular music, songwriter and actress, whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during World War II.

She is widely known as “the Forces Sweetheart” and gave outdoor concerts for the troops in Egypt, India and Burma during the war. The songs most associated with her are “We’ll Meet Again”, “The White Cliffs of Dover”, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”, and “There’ll Always Be an England”. For more on her generous and fascinating life, Click here

Remain

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 13, 2020

Click here for readings

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

John15_4 Remain

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

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

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

May we remain.


Music: I Am the Vine – John Michael Talbot

Don’t Linger in Darkness!

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 6, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings have a global, even universal, feel to them. By the power of God, the Apostles begin to go out and preach to the whole world.

Acts tells us that:

… the Holy Spirit said,
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them.”
Then, completing their fasting and prayer,
they laid hands on them and sent them off.


Our Responsorial Psalm gives us this universal prayer:

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.


And Jesus assures us in the Gospel:

I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me
might not remain in darkness.


Jn12_46 LightJPG

For our prayer, we might want to place before God’s Radiance all those places in the world, and within ourselves, which long for Light. The whole world shares at least one dark shadow in the global pandemic. That shadow has emphasized some of the tenebrous corners in our own hearts where fear, loneliness, loss, and doubt cower and now want to creep out in our required isolation.

And, spread across our world, there are so many other darknesses famished for Light!

Together, let us give all of these shadows to God’s power as we pray. May that power release us and all our sisters and brothers into its glorious resplendence. Like the Apostles, may a brilliant, steady energy go out from our hearts, convinced of and empowered by the Light of the Gospel.


Music: Two lovely pieces of music suggested themselves today.  I hope you enjoy them.

  1. Eric Whitaker  – Lux Aurumque (“Light and Gold”) is a choral composition in one movement. It is a Christmas piece based on a Latin poem of the same name.

Lux,
Calida gravisque pura velut aurum
Et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

Light,
warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.
Edward Esch, b.1970
(Translated to Latin by Charles Anthony Silvestri)


2. Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty – Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ

Spirit seeking Light and Beauty,
Hearts that longeth for Thy rest,
Soul that asketh understanding, only thus can you be blest.
Through the vastness of creation though your restless heart may roam,

God is all that you may long for,
God is all His creatures’ home.
Taste and see it, feel and hear it,
Hope and grasp His unseen Hand.

Though the darkness seems to hide Him,
Faith and love can understand
God Who loveth all His creatures,
All our hearts are known to Thee.
Lead us through the Land of Shadows
To Your vast eternity

In God’s Hands

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 5, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, the image of God’s hands emerges in each of our readings.

preachers

There were some …. proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
Acts 11:21


shepherd

 

I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
John 10:28


My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
John 10:29


Each of these images evokes and inspires our trust that God abides with and sustains us – that we are in God’s hands.

We all know what it’s like to place ourself in someone else’s hands. Sometimes we do it willingly, sometimes not. Sometimes it is an act of trust, sometimes fear.

This morning, as I pray, I remember two parallel but distinctly different incidents of being in someone else’s hands. 


pikesIn the first, I went with friends on a drive to the top of Pike’s Peak in Colorado. It was before the serpentine road was paved in 1999. The driver was the young cowboy nephew of one of the passengers, and he thought it was really fun to scare us out of our wits. He took the many curves and switchbacks at headlong speed. I closed my eyes and started praying.


doctor-clipart-transparent-12The second memory is recent. Just before my knee replacement surgery, as I lay slightly anesthetized in pre-op, my surgeon came to the bedside. He sat down, took my hand and said, “I want you to know that I will do the surgery myself and be with you the whole time. I am putting my initials on your knee so you can be certain I’ll fix the right one.” He smiled, and I again closed my eyes and started praying.


What different prayers they were! One was begging God to intervene and save me. The other was thanking God for putting me in trustworthy hands.

Jn10_29 hands

With God, we are always in trustworthy hands. Indeed, sometimes it may feel like God is flying over the edge of Pike’s Peak with us in the back seat. But here’s the thing: God is in the car with us – and God always lives! If we give ourselves completely to God in trust, we will live too.

Eventually, our practice of trust grows enough to comfort us in all things. We realize God is always sitting beside us, taking our hand, assuring us of that Loving Presence Who always abides.

A great freedom comes with that realization, steeped in years of trust and understanding that God’s Will for us is our eternal good. The preachers in Acts today, and the disciples in John rejoiced and acted in such trust. May we too be strengthened, blessed, and impelled by it.

Music:  Into Your Hands – Ray Rep

Into Your hands we commend our spirit –Ray Repp

Into Your hands we commend our spirits O Lord,
Into Your hands we commend our hearts.
For we must die to ourselves in loving You,
Into Your hands we commend our love.

O God, my God, why have You gone from me,
Far from my prayers, far from my cry?
To You I call and you never answer me,
You send no comfort and I don’t know why!

You’ve been my guide since I was very young,
You showed the way, you brought relief;
But now I’m lonely, nobody’s by my side:
Take heed, my Lord, listen to my prayer.

A Shocking Gift

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

May 1, 2020

Click here for readings

Dali
Institution of the Eucharist: Salvador Dali

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel is serious business. In it, Jesus reveals the lynchpin of our sacramental faith.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.

It is a stark and shocking statement. The listening Jews “quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?’.”

Down through the ages, struggling believers have grappled with the same question. Or, perhaps less preferable, complacent believers have never even considered it.

I think Jesus wanted us to consider it, absorb it, be changed by it, live within it, because “unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.”


Among the Christian denominations there is a range of interpretations of this teaching. 

Wikipedia has a very good summary. Click to read it.


As Catholics, we believe that Christ is truly and fully present in Eucharist and that, by Communion, becomes fully present in us, the Church.

When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and “the work of our redemption is carried out”. This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived.
(ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA, Encyclical of John Paul II)


For me, it is a truth only appreciated when approached with more than the mind. It must be apprehended with the heart and soul. God so loves us in the person of Jesus Christ that God chooses to be eternally present with us, and in us, through the gift of Eucharist.

Praying with this truth over the years has led me to read authors like Edward Schillebeeckx (Christ the sacrament of the encounter with God), Diarmuid O’Murchu (Quantum Theology), and Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (Hymn of the Universe).

deChardin


But I will tell you that every time I receive the Eucharist, I let this little hymn play in my heart, one I learned for my First Holy Communion. It still unites my heart to my desired faith.

Music: Jesus, Jesus, Come to Me – sung by the Daughters of Mary
( I know the album art is not classic, but I can still believe I’m one of those little kids climbing into Jesus’s lap🤗. I think most of us are a mix of both unsophisticated and erudite theologies, so I hope you can enjoy this musical selection.)