If … then. Uh oh!

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter 

May 25, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings challenge us.

Jn15_20JPG

Jesus talks about the kind of blowback his disciples can expect for living their faith in  an inimical world. He gives us some “if … then” statements:

  • If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
  • If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.
  • If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

Reading these verses makes me wonder if I am really living the Gospel, because I don’t feel all that persecuted.

And then I think that this is because I really live in two worlds. I live in first world comfort and security. But there is also a part of me that agonizes daily over the injustice rampant in our shared world. Today’s Gospel challenges me to live more intentionally in that second world.

Walter Brueggemann says this:

Faith is both the conviction
that justice can be accomplished
and the refusal to accept injustice.”
Interrupting Silence: God’s Command to Speak Out

Jesus was not persecuted simply because he did miracles and preached love. This loving, life-giving ministry confronted the dominant, government-generated culture which relied on the subjugation and despair of those they dominated.

Jesus, just like other prophets, was killed because he gave hope to a people whose freedom threatened the status quo comfort of the dominators. Just like  Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Oscar Romero , Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Wang Zhiming , the Blessed Martyrs of Nowogrodek  (All names are clickable to find more information.)

I don’t aspire to martyrdom. But I do want to be a true disciple of Jesus. The way available to us is to live and act with mercy and compassion for the poor, marginalized people Jesus so loves. We can do this by voting, advocating for, and sponsoring programs and agendas for social justice.  This link from the Sisters of Mercy is a help on how to do that:

Click here for Sisters of Mercy Advocacy page

Brueggemann also says this:

Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness. In the arrangement of “lawfulness” in Jesus’ time, as in the ancient empire of Pharaoh, the one unpermitted quality of relation was compassion. Empires are never built or maintained on the basis of compassion.” (Prophetic Imagination)

May our hearts be moved by grace to the depth of compassion we have learned from Jesus.

P.S. I know that many of you have responded to this request I placed on Facebook. Thank you. For those who don’t do Facebook, this is an urgent request for help for refugees at our southern border. It’s an easy way to do some good things.It was received from Sisters of Mercy Leadership Team in D.C.

Music for today is below this request. 


appeal


Music: Compassion- The Gettys 

Whenever I Call You “Friend”

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter 

May 24, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Jesus calls us his friends. What a magical, mysterious word! Making friends, being friends, keeping friends – these are some of the essential dynamics of a human life.

Jn15_15_friends

Many years ago, one of our family’s preschoolers was playing with his neighborhood buddies. His mom told him to introduce the boys to us. Very formally, little Charlie announced, “I would like you to meet my shrends.” He was not too sure yet about the word, but he was very clear on the concept. Among all his classmates, these guys shared something special with him.

Like all our relationships, Charlie’s would develop over time by trial and error, by imitation and intention – one confidence, care and joy shared, one after another. Trust and love would build, ultimately giving that irreplaceable gift of true and trusted friendship 

Jesus is telling us today that we share something special with him. Our spiritual life is all about building those mutual confidences and shared experiences that help us to know Christ’s heart and allow him to know ours.

Jesus has given himself fully to this friendship:

I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you
all that the Father has told me.

May we ever grow stronger and more generous in our response to Christ’s amazing gift. May we learn to love as Christ loves.

This is my commandment:
love one another as I love you.

No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Music:  Today’s choice is a popular contemporary song. Ever since I was a young teen, I sometimes, in prayer, choose to sing a popular song to God (mostly in my heart now, because my voice has gone the way of all flesh). Some of these songs can be perfect for what’s in the heart. If you have never tried it, this song might encourage you to. Maybe you have a favorite you’d like to sing to God, your Friend who loves you beyond description.

Whenever I Call You Friend – Michael Johnson and Alison Krause

 

Heritage of Faith

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 16, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our reading from Acts tells of Paul’s preaching in the synagogue at Antioch. Paul, himself steeped in the love and practice of his Jewish faith, comes before more faithful Jews to invite them to a transformed faith in Jesus, the Messiah they had been awaiting. That was no easy assignment!

Ps89_2_family of God

But Paul, learned and erudite, traces the entire hereditary line of the Jewish faith, through the House of David, and leading to Jesus Christ. It’s a rich and beautiful homily that redefines the meaning and reach of God’s Family.

In our Gospel, Jesus too describes what it means to belong to God’s family. He says that whoever receives him, and lovingly serves like him, is one with him and with the Father.

These readings give the inspiration to consider and pray on many points. Perhaps these three may be helpful:

Through what human means and heritage has our faith been handed down to us? Who are the parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and godparents of our cherished faith? Let’s pray with them today and remember their loving example.


What family of faith has been gifted to us through our community, church and graced friendships over our lifetime? Who are these with whom we share the DNA of our spirit, who have bolstered our faith throughout the journey? Let us pray in gratitude for the gift of these people in our life.


What about us? For whom are we a “faith family”? How do we give the gift of faith, love and service in that family?


Music: I Knew My Father Knew – Sally deFord and James Loynes

Open to the Light

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

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May 15, 2019

Today, in Mercy, Jesus calls himself the Light.

Jn12_46_Light

Surely he came to bring us out of darkness which is light’s polar opposite. Most of us receive that deliverance with gratitude, understanding it to be our redemption from sin and separation from God.

As we grow deeper in our spiritual life, we may realize that there are many degrees of opposition to the Light. We may not find ourselves in the deep darkness of habitual sin, but rather on those tantalizing edges of spiritual laziness that can halt our soul’s growth:

  • the fog of faithless religious practice
  • the clouds of unresolved hurts and failures in forgiveness
  • the shadows of our religious prejudices
  • the dusk of our early energy for charity and community
  • the eclipse of hope and confidence in God

May God give us the grace to see that Light, too, comes in many forms, beaming through the smallest openings in our spirit. Every act, every choice, every silent prayer made for the sake of Love allows that Light to grow. You may like to pray with that thought while appreciating this poem of Denise Levertov:

Bearing the Light

Rain-diamonds, this winter morning, 
embellish the tangle of unpruned pear-tree twigs; 
each solitaire, placed, it appears, with considered judgement, 
bears the light beneath the rifted clouds – 
the indivisible shared out in endless abundance.

Music: some beautiful instrumental music from Kathryn Kaye for your prayer time.

Pour It All Out for Love

Saturday of the Third Week of Easter 

May 11, 2019

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Today, in Mercy,  Acts describes Peter in the full energy of his discipleship. The infant Church was at peace, being built up by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter, completely filled with this sacred power, raises a woman from the dead. He does this in the Name of Jesus to Whom he has given his entire being.

pour faith

Our Gospel describes the moment of Peter’s total commitment. Some have turned away from Jesus because of his teaching on the Eucharist. Jesus asks the Twelve if they to wish to go too.

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.

At pivotal points in our faith life, Jesus asks us the same question. May we always have the strength and insight to turn toward Christ. May we pour our hearts into the welcoming love of Jesus, just as Peter did.

Music: To Whom Shall We Go – Robin and Staci Calamaio – Father and daughter team

In Mercy Broken

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

May 10, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, John gives us the core teaching of the Eucharist. 

Jn6_56 eucharist

For many, it is a hard teaching. How can Jesus give us his flesh and blood to nourish us? How can mere bread and wine embody this gift?

Have you ever been profoundly hungry? For most of us, probably not in a physical sense. But what about your heart and soul?

Have you ever longed to be loved, understood, accepted, or valued?

Have you ever felt famished for peace, rest, comfort, security, or solitude?

Have you ever longed to be delivered from gnawing anxiety, depression, fear, sorrow or loneliness?

Jesus recognizes all our hungers. He desires to enfold them in his Healing Mercy. He unites us to himself in the sacred reality of Eucharist, made visible to us in bread and wine.

In Eucharist , these fruits of the earth are not simply symbols pointing to another reality. By the power of God, they become sacraments embodying the reality themselves.

This mystery is one that must be embraced by the heart and soul, not one only to be analyzed by the mind. By opening the deep hungers of our spirit to the healing presence of Christ in Eucharist, we will be fed in ways we could never have imagined. In Mercy, we will become sources of nourishment for the broken world around us.

Music: Bread of the World in Mercy Broken – Reginald Heber

 

The Unfathomable Gift

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter 

May 7, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, the crowd demands a sign from Jesus “that they may believe” in him. They refer to their ancestral memory of when God sent manna to their forebears in the desert – a miracle that restored their faith.

bread of life

But although Jesus worked many wonders, he was not sent simply to be a “wonder worker”. The faith of the New Creation was not to be built on miracles but on sacrificial love.

Jesus tells the assembled crowd:

“ My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven

and gives life to the world.”

He is talking about himself, the ultimate gift of God, feeding not just the body but the spirit – giving new life to all Creation.

The sacrament of the Eucharist embraces this mystery and extends it through the ages. Embodied in the Sacred Bread, this mystery is also incarnated in the People of God as they believe, hope and love God’s Presence into the world.

As with all sacred mysteries, we cannot simply choose to believe as a rational act. This faith is not willed by us, but rather gifted to us, as Jesus says:

“ You cannot come to Me
unless the Father draw you.”

The crowd gathered around Jesus in today’s Gospel is asking  him for a sign before they will believe. Let us instead ask God for the grace  to open our hearts undemandingly to the deep gift of faith God wishes to give us.

Music: Bread of Heaven – Jessie Manibusan  (Lyrics below)

Bread of heaven, Savior broken,
cup of life outpoured;
we your people thirst and hunger.
Come renew us, Lord;
come renew us, Lord.

From the mountain, blessing spoken
where we came to pray;
with the simple truth before us:
love them in my name;
love them in my name.

From the garden dark with sorrow,
from the tears you wept,
bloomed the flower of salvation:
new life born of death,
new life born of death.

From the hill where love was lifted
on the heavy wood,
flow the blood and streams of mercy
where your Mother stood,
where your Mother stood.

From the tomb that could not hold you
in the dark of night,
broke that morning of redemption,
raising us to life,
raising us to life.

Do You Love Me?

Third Sunday of Easter

May 5, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Jesus asks Peter an open-ended question, the kind that leaves us very vulnerable to the answer:

Do you love me?

Jn21_17

Wow! What if Peter says “No”, or “Sort of” or worse yet, just stares off into the distance in silence?

And the question is kind of scary for Peter too. Maybe he’s thinking, “OK, this is it. Jesus wants me to lay it all on the line. Am I ready?”.

The Gospel poses questions to each of us today as well:

  • Who and what do I really love?
  • How does my primary love drive my life choices?
  • Are there places in my life that lack love – places where prejudice, blindness, selfishness or hate have filled in the emptiness?
  • Where is God in my loves?

St. John of the Cross wrote this:

At the end of our lives we will be judged on love.
Learn therefore to love God as God wishes to be loved.

More than enough to pray on today.❤️

Music: Where Charity and Love Prevail – a lovely English translation of Ubi Caritas, written in Gregorian chant.

Do Not Be Afraid

Saturday of the Second Week of Easter 

May 4, 2019

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Jn6-20 It is I

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel recounts a scary episode for the disciples. Just as in most scary stories, “It was a dark and rainy night”. Worse yet, these guys were out in the middle of a turbulent sea!

Been there? Maybe not in actual nautical terms, but we’ve all had our storms. Right?

The miracle in our Gospel story is that Jesus comes to the disciples out of the midst of the storm. And he will do the same thing for us, if faith can clear our eyes to see him.

In a spiritual direction relationship, where we share our soul’s journey with a guiding companion, that mentor will often ask the question:

Where is God in this situation?

It is the perfect question to ask ourselves in both our small and mighty storms. In all that happens within and around us, God abides – perhaps in the center calling us to new depths; perhaps at the edges calling us away from darkness.

Where is God today for you, dear friends?

Music: Sometimes He Calms the Storm – Scott Krippayne

(You might want just to linger over the words of this beautiful song, so I have printed them below.)

All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong

Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace,  “Be still.”
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will

Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we’re shaken
We cannot be pulled apart from Christ

No matter how the driving rain beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place

Songwriters: Benton Kevin Stokes / Tony W. Wood
Sometimes He Calms the Storm lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group

Via, Veritas et Vida

Friday of the Second Week of Easter
May 3, 2019

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Jn14_6 way truthToday, in Mercy, Jesus clearly tells us who he is for us:

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jesus is the one, immovable Light in any darkness or confusion that engulfs us. How comforting and centering that thought – if only we can remember it!

Each of us, no doubt, has lost and found our way hundreds of times in our lives.

We have all been tossed back and forth on the half-truths, white lies, and deceptive silences of ourselves and others.

We have walked a razor line along the cliffs of death either of our beloveds or in our own spirits.

If we came through those times, it was because God found us, opened our hearts to the truth, breathed a Divine Recovery into our souls.

We are so often like Philip whose feast with James we celebrate today. Philip lived in the abundance of Christ’s presence. He listened every day to His blessed Word. Yet, after years of being with Jesus, Philip says

“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus sounds a little surprised. He responds to Philip:

“Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

God has been with us too from the moment Divine Life was breathed into us. We can completely trust that Presence, that Way, that Truth, that Life.

Such trust can transform our lives!

Music: O Via, Vita, Veritas – (perhaps outdated in tone, but lovely in melody and sentiment ) by Blessed Giacomo Alberione

O VIA, VITA, VERITAS!

O Via, Vita, Veritas, o Jesu!
Lucens per omnes semitas, o Jesu!
Te sequemur, trahe nos / Credulos ac servulos.
Te collaudamus / In Te speramus / Amamus Te / Dulcissime, o Jesu!

In verbo tuo stabimus, o Jesu!
Crucis pugnam pugnabimus, o Jesu!
Dediti Ecclesiæ / Veritatis regiæ.
Te collaudamus / In Te speramus / Amamus Te / Dulcissime, o Jesu!

Our Way, our Truth, our Life divine – O Jesus, our Lord!
On ev’ry path as Light you shine – O Master adored!
Lead us so we shall fulfill,
Through our faith and works, your will.
We praise and bless you, / Our hope confess you!
In love we sing, / Eternal King, / O Master adored! 

Your word we’ll keep with all our might – O Jesus, our Lord!
The battle of the cross we’ll fight – O master adored!
Docile to your Church we’ll be,
By your truths led joyously.
We praise and bless you, / Our hope confess you!
In love we sing, / Eternal King, O Master adored!