Lent: Releasing Praise

March 26, 2022
Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are encouraged to pray. Hosea tells us:

Come, let us return to the LORD,
it is he who has rent, but he will heal us;
… the LORD will come to us like the rain,
like spring rain that waters the earth.


Let the image of that truth sink into your parched spirit.

rain

Our Gospel leads us to pray humbly:

But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

As we pray humbly today, let us ask for God’s refreshment for all our sisters and brothers across the earth. In good times and in trials, let us always praise God.


I would like to share one of my own poems with you today, as we kneel before God with all struggling Creation begging God for humanity to be washed in Mercy.

        All Creation    

 All Creation kneels,
a Single Being,
to praise God.

 From its immense heart,
it sings myriad songs at once,
Morning and Evensong,
Praise and Dirge,
Alas and Alleluia,
intermingled

 It sings even over its own scars,
where the chasms cry out for balm.
It sings both the remembrance
and the hope of blessing.
It sings the endurance of faith
and the confidence of love.

 In roar and silence,
darkness and light,
Creation kneels,
a Single Being,
to praise God.


Music: Total Praise sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  Just watching these faith-filled people lifts my heart and gives me hope.  I trust it will do the same for you, dear friends as we pray for one another.

Seeing Clearly

February 16, 2022
Wednesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are around the theme of our spiritual senses.

James tells us to listen, look, see, and act on the Word planted within our hearts. Once again, he gives us great images to help our understanding.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets
what he looked like.

James 1:3-24

If anyone thinks he is religious
and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.

James 1: 26

In our Gospel, once again our dear, earthy Jesus heals someone in a deeply human way. Jesus takes the blind man aside, holding his hand to lead him. As he did in a passage recently, Jesus spits on his fingers and massages the blind man’s eyes.

The man tries to work with Jesus, exclaiming that he sees “people like trees walking”.

I’ve always loved that line because it makes me feel like I’m right there, in that little dusty village of Bethsaida, listening like the rest of the stunned crowd to the man’s amazement!


As we pray this morning, we might wonder what Jesus said back to that overwhelmed man as they sat together, helping him to learn how to see. What might Jesus say to us as he lifts one of our many blindnesses from our hearts?


Prose: from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

(This passage is from one of my all-time favorite books written by Annie Dillard whom I think of as the “Mary Oliver” of prose. Here’s the way wikipedia describes the book:)

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a 1974 nonfiction narrative book by American author Annie Dillard. Told from a first-person point of view, the book details an unnamed narrator's explorations near her home, and various contemplations on nature and life. The title refers to Tinker Creek, which is outside Roanoke in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Dillard began writing Pilgrim in the spring of 1973, using her personal journals as inspiration. Separated into four sections that signify each of the seasons, the narrative takes place over the period of one year.
The book records the narrator's thoughts on solitude, writing, and religion, as well as scientific observations on the flora and fauna she encounters. Touching upon themes of faith, nature, and awareness, Pilgrim is also noted for its study of theodicy and the inherent cruelty of the natural world. The author has described it as a "book of theology", and she rejects the label of nature writer.

I think this is a great book to pick up at the beginning of any season of nature or life. The excerpt I chose for today, in honor of the Gospel, is from a chapter entitled ” Seeing”:

A fog that won’t burn away drifts and flows across my field of vision. When you see fog move against a backdrop of deep pines, you don’t see the fog itself, but streaks of clearness floating across the air in dark shreds. So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity. I can’t distinguish the fog from the overcast sky; I can’t be sure if the light is direct or reflected. Everywhere darkness and the presence of the unseen appalls. We estimate now that only one atom dances alone in every cubic meter of intergalactic space. I blink and squint. What planet or power yanks Halley’s Comet out of orbit? We haven’t seen that force yet; it’s a question of distance, density, and the pallor of reflected light. We rock, cradled in the swaddling band of darkness. Even the simple darkness of night whispers suggestions to the mind.

The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across and hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the most practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise. I return from one walk knowing where the killdeer nests in the field by the creek and the hour the laurel blooms. I return from the same walk a day later scarcely knowing my own name. Litanies hum in my ears; my tongue flaps in my mouth Ailinon, alleluia! I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Light, be it particle or wave, has force: you rig a giant sail and go. The secret of seeing is to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.

Music: I Can See Clearly Now – Jimmy Cliff

Down, Dirty, and Divine!

February 11, 2022
Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel gives us one my favorite portrayals of Jesus. It’s what I think of as “down in the dirt with us” Jesus. Let me give you some background on the image.

Me and Petey 😉 1955, looking a lot cleaner and official than we really were!

When I was a kid in North Philly, my buddy’s dog was hit by a car. We were playing baseball in a cinder lot (that’s where the railroad dumped its ashes in the old days when trains ran on coal). We were about a half block away when we heard the screeching. We turned and watched the guilty car speed off without a moment’s hesitation.

Petey ran screaming toward his dog, the rest of us cinder-dusty kids streaming behind him. I can still see Petey lie down beside that whimpering mutt who had been tossed into a muddy gully along Philip Street. He cradled the bruised head and whispered to the frightened eyes. Then Petey quietly said, “Get my Dad”, as he stroked Lightening’s heaving back.


As I remember that moment today, Petey reflects the image of the Divine Healer who – muddied and bloodied — has taken a place beside all of us as we suffer. He is unafraid of our mud and cinders. He is touched by our mumblings and tears.

In today’s Gospel, there is stunning humanness. The suffering man doesn’t just ask for a miracle. He asks for a hand to be laid on him, for a touch, for a connection he can feel. And Jesus hears his deep human need.

People brought to Jesus a deaf man who had a speech impediment
who begged him to lay his hand on him.

Mark 7:32
Be Opened – Thomas Davidson (1872)

Some miracles are accomplished by a fleshless, electric word shot through the air. But not this one.

With this lonely, isolated man, feel Jesus caress your head, perhaps finger the ears that have heard so much criticism and frustration. Feel Jesus touch your tongue, twisted sometimes in its attempts to speak your meaning into the world. Receive the surprising gift of Divine spittle that intends to insure, “I am part of you now. You will never be alone again.”

Hear Christ’s groan as he prays for you in sounds that plead, “Get my Dad. ABBA, Father.”

He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)

Mark 7:32-34

Hear the definite pronouncement of your liberation
from anything that tongue-ties, heart-ties,
soul-ties your life:
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)

Poetry: I believe in all that has never been spoken – Rainer Maria Rilke
~ from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clearwithout my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Music: Ephphatha – Fill Me – Carrie Allwine

No Regrets

February 1, 2022
Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

You have followed the story in these daily passages. Absalom rebels, designing to usurp his father’s throne. A massive battle rises between them. David, as commander-in-chief, remains behind, but gives instructions to his generals to spare Absalom’s life. Joab ignores the command, killing Absalom in a moment of vulnerability.

David is devastated.

David and Absalom – Marc Chagall
(Fair Use)

I think there is no more wrenching human emotion than regret. When I ministered for nearly a decade as hospice chaplain, and later in the emergency room, I saw so much regret.

People who had waited too long to say “I’m sorry”, “I forgive you”, “Let’s start over”, “Thank you for all you did for me”, “I love you”…..

Instead, these people stood at lifeless bedsides saying things like, “I should have”, “I wish…”, “If only…”


Life is complex and sometimes difficult. We get hurt, and we hurt others — sometimes so hurt that we walk away from relationship, or stay but wall ourselves off.

We might think that what is missing in such times is love. But I think it is more likely truth. In times of painful conflict, if we can hear and speak our truth to ourselves and one another, we open the path to healing.


If you want the truth, I’ll tell you the truth.
Listen to the secret sound,
the real sound, which is inside you.

Kabir

That healing may demand adjustments, agreements, even a willingness to step apart in mutual respect. But if the changes emerge from shared truth, restoration and wholeness are possible.


David and Absalom never found that path because they were so absorbed in their own self-interests. Theirs was the perfect formula for regret – that fruitless stump that perpetually sticks in the heart.


Poetry: How Clear, How Lovely Bright – A.E. Houseman

How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
    Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea   
Soars the delightful day.
To-day I shall be strong,
No more shall yield to wrong,
    Shall squander life no more;
Days lost, I know not how,
I shall retrieve them now;
Now I shall keep the vow
    I never kept before.
Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
    Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found,
How hopeless under ground
    Falls the remorseful day

I remember a trauma surgeon leaving the hospital late one night after an unsuccessful effort to save a young boy who had been shot.

The doctor carried the loss so heavily as he walked into the night barely whispering to me, “I’m just going to go home and hug my kids.”

As we pray over David and Absalom today, let us examine our lives for the fractures that are still healable and act on them. Let us “hug” the life we have within and all around us. Regret is a lethal substitute.



When David Heard – Eric Whitaker ( The piece builds. Be patient. Lyrics below)

When David heard that Absalom was slain,
he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept,
and thus he said;

My son, my son,
O Absalom my son,
would God I had died for thee!

When David heard that Absalom was slain,
he went up into his chamber over the gate and wept,
and thus he said;

My son, my son.

Spirit Set Free

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have two highly dramatic passages in which a lot of people are annoying one another! If there were an Oscar category for “Best Biblical Drama”, these stories would definitely be nominees!

In our ongoing “David Saga”, the troubled king flees Jerusalem because his own son Absalom is plotting to overthrow him. David, at this point in time, is humbled and not a little wearied by the theatrics of his life. His sins continue to haunt him and wreak a recompense. 

Shimei curses David by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld

In today’s passage, we meet Shimei who has his own little miniseries going on in the Bible. Shimei is part of Saul’s family and holds David responsible for Saul’s demise. When meeting David in this passage, Shimei dangerously, and we might say stupidly, sets on him, throwing dirt and stones at the King. David prevents the troops from responding to the wildly outraged man. David even suggests that God may be trying to teach David something in the attack.

The Demoniac at Gadara

In our Gospel, we meet another wildly outraged man. This one is tormented by his inner demons, causing him also to put himself in dangerous situations. Jesus names this man’s tormentor and casts it out, giving the man control of himself again.


Have you ever been so offended, humiliated or injured that you felt outrage for yourself or another? Such fury chains us, making rationality and reconciliation close to impossible. Sometimes, it renders us impotent to name and address the deep source of our indignation.

Instead, we lash out with stones of anger or passive aggression – throwing the dirt of condemnation rather than seeking inner balance and healing.


Most of us have encountered large or small “dementors” in our life.
(Thanks for the term AND the image, Harry Potter)

But when I think of those who have endured unbelievable degrees of torment, I am amazed at their stories of faith and resolution: Anne Frank, Victor Frankel, Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman …. Jesus Christ. How did they come through it whole and blessed?

Maybe the possessed man in Mark’s Gospel was just lucky that day to run into Jesus. Or maybe he sought out Christ, trying to find stability in the midst of his derangement.

When we face our own imbalances can we stay still long enough to ask, as David did, “What is God teaching me in this. How can this lead me closer to God?” If we could, might we not be surprised to see our demons named, cast into the greater sea of God’s eternal wisdom, peace and love?


Poetry: Matthew VIII, 28 Fr. – Richard Wilbur
This poem, spoken by the residents of Gadara or Gerasa, imagines that they are more interested in their commerce than in miracles. They’re pretty disturbed about their pigs too

Rabbi, we Gadarenes
Are not ascetics; we are fond of wealth and possessions.
Love, as You call it, we obviate by means
Of the planned release of aggressions.
We have deep faith in properity.
Soon, it is hoped, we will reach our full potential.
In the light of our gross product, the practice of charity
Is palpably non-essential.
It is true that we go insane;
That for no good reason we are
possessed by devils;
That we suffer, despite the amenities
which obtain
At all but the lowest levels.
We shall not, however, resign
Our trust in the high-heaped table and the full trough.
If You cannot cure us without destroying our swine,
We had rather You shoved off.


Music: Set My Spirit Free – Maranatha Singers

Sunset for Saul

January 21, 2022
Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are full of drama and meaning enveloped in two of the greatest speeches of the Hebrew Scriptures – one from David, the other from Saul. The use of speeches to unfold the narrative is characteristic of the high points of Scripture. And these are two winners.

In the passage from Samuel, David spares Saul’s life even though Saul is in murderous pursuit of him. The result is the final dissolution of Saul’s kingship. It is a scene that could be right out of MGM! (Here is a video for kids featuring the moment. But I thought it was pretty cool. Maybe you will too.)

Is David noble or naïve? Is he magnanimous or stupid? Is he sincere or clever? Various scripture scholars interpret these passages in a host of ways. But as I pray this morning, I ask myself what it is that God might be saying to me through this passage.

Two things rise up:

  1. Above all else, David is motivated by a deep respect for God’s Will and Presence in his life. He doesn’t force God’s Will by seizing the kingship. David waits and listens for God’s intention.

David said to his men,
“The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master,
the LORD’s anointed, as to lay a hand on him,
for he is the LORD’s anointed.”

    2.  David engages Saul directly and respectfully, perhaps in the hope of reaching a resolution of their issues. This honesty appears to motivate Saul to see himself and his situation clearly. It is a consummate act of reconciliation.

When David finished saying these things to Saul, Saul answered,
“Is that your voice, my son David?”
And Saul wept aloud.


Reverence and honesty rooted in
sincere love and respect for one another!
What a world we would live in
if each of us practiced these things unfailingly!

In our Gospel, Jesus calls his disciples to live in the world in just such a way – to bring healing and wholeness in the Name of Christ, for the sake of Love.

Our Alleluia Verse today captures the essence of Christ’s call to them —- and to us:

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
and entrusting to us the message of that reconciliation.


Poetry: Saul And David by Anthony Hecht, 1923 – 2004, was an American poet. His work combined a deep interest in form with a passionate desire to confront the horrors of 20th century history, with the Second World War, in which he fought, and the Holocaust being recurrent themes in his work.

It was a villainous spirit, snub-nosed, foul
Of breath, thick-taloned and malevolent,
That squatted within him wheresoever he went
…….And possessed the soul of Saul.

There was no peace on pillow or on throne.
In dreams the toothless, dwarfed, and squinny-eyed
Started a joyful rumor that he had died
…….Unfriended and alone.

The doctors were confounded. In his distress, he
Put aside arrogant ways and condescended
To seek among the flocks where they were tended
…….By the youngest son of Jesse,

A shepherd boy, but goodly to look upon,
Unnoticed but God-favored, sturdy of limb
As Michelangelo later imagined him,
…….Comely even in his frown.

Shall a mere shepherd provide the cure of kings?
Heaven itself delights in ironies such
As this, in which a boy’s fingers would touch
…….Pythagorean strings

And by a modal artistry assemble
The very Sons of Morning, the ranked and choired
Heavens in sweet laudation of the Lord,
…….And make Saul cease to tremble.

Music: To Fill the World with Love sung by Richard Harris
(Lyrics below, but you will no doubt recall them from the fabulous film “Goodbye Mr. Chips”.)

In the morning of my life I shall look to the sunrise.
At a moment in my life when the world is new.
And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me,
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.

(Chorus)
And to fill the world with love
And to fill the world with love
And to fill the world with love my whole life through

In the noontime of my life I shall look to the sunshine,
At a moment in my life when the sky is blue.
And the blessing I shall ask shall remain unchanging.
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through

(Chorus)

In the evening of my life I shall look to the sunset,
At a moment in my life when the night is due.
And the question I shall ask only God can answer.
Was I brave and strong and true?
Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?

With Open Arms

Friday, January 7, 2022
Friday after Epiphany

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, John and Jesus continue to teach us.

In our first reading, we hear John preaching to a community that has become confused. Some have begun to doubt and to teach a watered-down version of Christ and the Gospel.

John convinces his community, and us, that we are invited into God’s own life through Baptism, the Paschal-Eucharistic Mystery, and through the Holy Spirit. This is the truth of Jesus Christ which we embrace by a faithful life.

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood. 
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth. 
So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood, 
and the three are of one accord. 

1 John 5:6

In our Gospel, Jesus shows us how to live that faithful life – through loving, generous service such as he models.

Jesus cleans the leper, Mosaic detail, 12thC,
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

A pitiable leper interrupts Jesus on his journey to ask for help. People like this man were scorned, feared, and isolated. Their leprosy impoverished them, making them annoying beggars. Their cries usually met with indifference at best and banishment at worst.

But when this leper poses his proposal to Jesus – “If you want to, you can heal me.” — Jesus gives the spontaneous answer of a true, merciful heart: “Of course I want to!” He responds with open arms and open heart.

Greek rendering of phrase “Of course I do!”

There is no annoyance, no suggestion that other concerns are more important. There is just the confirmation that – Yes- this is the purpose of my life: to heal, love, show mercy toward whatever suffering is in my power to touch. There is just the clear message that “You, too, poor broken leper, are Beloved of God.”

What an example and call Jesus gives us today! We are commissioned to continue this merciful touch of Christ along the path of our own lives. When circumstances offer us the opportunity to be Mercy for another, may we too respond with enthusiasm, “Of course I want to!” May we have the eyes to see through any “leprosy” to find the Beloved of God.


Prose: Mother Teresa – from In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Seeking the face of God
in everything, everyone, all the time,
and his hand in every happening;
This is what it means to be contemplative
in the heart of the world.
Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus,
especially in the lowly appearance of bread,
and in the distressing disguise of the poor.

Music: Compassion Hymn – Kristyn and Keith Getty

Rain Down, Lord!

December 15, 2021
Wednesday of the Third Week in Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Isaiah and Luke who both offer us passages in which God self-describes in displays of omnipotence and tenderness.

In Isaiah, we meet the powerful Creator Who dispenses both justice and mercy.

In Luke, we meet the merciful Savior Who tenderly uses that power to heal.

With our psalm response from Isaiah, we voice our longing to be healed by God’s infinite power – a power which finds the world’s brokenness, seeps into it like rain, transforms it with love.


Poetry: I Rain by Hafiz

The poem came to mind when I prayed the verse:
Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.

I rain
Because your meadows call
For God.

I weave light into words so that
When your mind holds them

Your eyes will relinquish their sadness,
Turn bright, a little brighter, giving to us
The way a candle does
To the dark.

I have wrapped my laughter like a gift
And left it beside your bed.

I have planted my heart’s wisdom
Next to every signpost in the sky.

A wealthy one, seeing all this,
May become eccentric,

A divinely wild soul
transformed to infinite generosity

Tying gold sacks of gratuity
To the dangling feet of moons, planets, ecstatic
Midair dances, and singing birds.

I speak
Because every cell in your body
Is thirsty
For God.

Music: Waiting for the Rain – Kathryn Kaye

Sing Mercy in the Sadness

December 7, 2021
Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent
Memorial of St. Ambrose

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are blessed, once again, with magnificent readings!

Our psalm coaches us to rejoice and sing – a song that will heal the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
    sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless the LORD’s name;
    announce God’s salvation, day after day.

Psalm 96:1-2

Our first reading is the exquisite “Comfort” passage from Isaiah. And our Gospel gives us Jesus tenderly seeking the single lost lamb.

The first and last words of these two readings – COMFORT, LOST – capture the whole intent of today’s message:


Life is a maze whose walls are heightened
by our incivility to one another.
Isaiah calls us to be a leveler of walls,
a straightener of twists, a bridge over deadly valleys.
Jesus calls us to seek and carry the lost sheep.
We are called to be Mercy in a suffering world.


These beautiful and challenging readings come to us this year at a time when Pope Francis has offered a clear and similar challenge to the world. Last week, during his visit to the refugee encampment on the Greek island of Lesbos, Francis voiced his profound pain at the international immigration tragedy:

“Let us not let our sea (mare nostrum) be transformed into a desolate sea of death (mare mortuum),” the Pope concluded.  “Let us not allow this place of encounter to become a theatre of conflict.  Let us not permit this “sea of memories” to be transformed into a “sea of forgetfulness”.  Please, let us stop this shipwreck of civilization.”

“It is an illusion to think it is enough to keep ourselves safe, to defend ourselves from those in greater need who knock at our door”, Pope Francis said.  “In the future, we will have more and more contact with others.  To turn it to the good, what is needed are not unilateral actions but wide-ranging policies.  History teaches this lesson, yet we have not learned it.” 

Source for quotes: Vatican News – vaticannews.va

During his address, the Pope asked every man and woman, “to overcome the paralysis of fear, the indifference that kills, the cynical disregard that nonchalantly condemns to death those on the fringes.” 


Resource: To learn about and reflect on the issue of immigration, here is a link to NETWORK. Founded by Catholic Sisters in the progressive spirit of Vatican II, NETWORK works to create a society that promotes justice and the dignity of all in the shared abundance of God’s creation.


Music: Comfort Ye from Handel’s Messiah – sung by Jerry Hadley

As we pray this glorious music today, let us ask for the strength and courage to be Mercy for the world, to find the ways to comfort God’s people, close by and at life’s borders.

No More Tears

December 4, 2021
Saturday of the First Week of Advent

Today, in Mercy, Isaiah – in glorious prophecy – promises God’s People better times.

Thus says the Lord GOD,
    the Holy One of Israel:
O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem,
    no more will you weep;
GOD will be gracious to you when you cry out,
    answering as soon as you are heard.
The Lord will give you the bread you need
    and the water for which you thirst.
No longer will your Teacher be hidden,
    but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
    “This is the way; walk in it,”
    when you would turn to the right or to the left.

Isaiah 30: 19-21

Oh my, don’t we all long for the fulfillment of that promise! So much in both our larger and smaller worlds longs for healing!


Perhaps we can use our prayer within these readings today to call on God for the promised healing.

It is a healing that requires our cooperation. Isaiah says that we must name our pain to God – for ourselves and for all who suffer in our world:

The Lord will be gracious to you when you cry out,
answering as soon as you are heard.


The prophet says that this crying out will change us. We will see the Lord with us in our suffering. God will lead us through that suffering by our acts of faith, hope, love, justice and mercy:

No longer will your Teacher be hidden,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
“This is the way; walk in it,”
when you would turn to the right or to the left.


Our Gospel tells us that we are called to be Christ’s disciples, and that disciples are healers. By letting our lives become sources of healing in the world, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled for our time.

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Matthew 10:5-8

How we do these wondrous deeds in the world is an ongoing revelation. When I was very young, I took the proclamation quite literally. But I soon lost the expectation that I would ever help “cure” anyone of anything!

Life has blessed me with the realization that there is a difference between “curing” and “healing” – and that there are many degrees of healing.

  • There are many ways in which living people are caught in deadly lives.
  • There are all kinds of “lepers” in our society, rendered so by the prejudices of others.
  • Certainly, many of us carry all sorts of crippling demons.

All these situations, and others like them, invite us to offer the gift of sacred healing implanted in us at our Baptism.

Acknowledging the pain in ourselves and others,
and trusting that God wants us to be healed and whole,
is the work of true discipleship.

Let’s draw strength from Isaiah’s promise in order to find a generous, merciful courage for our call to be “healed healers”.


Poetry: The Cure of Souls – Denise Levertov

The pastor
of grief and dreams

guides his flock towards
the next field

with all his care.
He has heard

the bell tolling
but the sheep

are hungry and need
the grass, today and

every day. Beautiful
his patience, his long

shadow, the rippling
sound of the flocks moving

along the valley.


Music: Your Healing Touch – Joe Bongiorno