Joyful Calculation

February 14, 2022
Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Lent is just a little over two weeks away. We will spend the intervening time in good company with daily insights from James, Peter and Mark. Today we begin the Epistle of James.

The Epistle of James- Chapter 1: Illustration provided to Wikimedia Commons by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing as part of a cooperation project. Sweet Publishing released these images, which are taken from now-out-of-print Read’n Grow Picture Bible Illustrations (Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984.), under new license, CC-BY-SA 3.0

This letter is one of the very earliest of the New Testament. Scholars are mixed about exactly which “James” wrote it, but agree that it was one of several who were very close to Jesus – perhaps one of “the brothers of Jesus” mentioned in several New Testament passages:

  • Matthew 12:46-50
  • Mark 3:31
  • Luke 8:19
  • John 2:12
  • Acts 1:14
  • 1 Corinthians 9:5
  • and specifically “the Lord’s brother James” in Galatians 1:19

James writes in the style of Wisdom Literature, those Old Testament books that give advice, proverbs, and insights for living a holy life. His immediate audience was a community of dispersed Christian Jews whose world was filled with increasing upheaval and persecution.


When I read the following description I thought how germane James’s letter could be for our world today. His themes echo the teachings of Pope Francis for our chaotic time:

The epistle is renowned for exhortions on fighting poverty and caring for the poor in practical ways (1:26–27; 2:1-4; 2:14-19; 5:1-6), standing up for the oppressed (2:1-4; 5:1-6) and not being “like the world” in the way one responds to evil in the world (1:26-27; 2:11; 3:13-18; 4:1-10). Worldly wisdom is rejected and people are exhorted to embrace heavenly wisdom, which includes peacemaking and pursuing righteousness and justice (3:13-18).

Jim Reiher, “Violent Language – a clue to the Historical Occasion of James.”Evangelical Quarterly. Vol. LXXXV No. 3. July 2013

Here is the golden advice James gives us today:

  • Be joyful in trials.
  • Let trials increase your perseverance not discourage you.
  • Doing this is a sign of wisdom.
  • When your wisdom is depleted, ask God for more with an open and trusting heart.
  • Honor all people, high or low in circumstances
  • Don’t be fooled by riches. They fade away.

In our Gospel, Jesus is frustrated with the Pharisees who insincerely demand a magical sign from him. They demonstrate none of the spiritual wisdom and openness to grace that James describes.

When we think about our own faith, where does it fall on the scale of sincerity, on the spectrum joy, justice, and faithful perseverance?


Poetry: On Joy and Sorrow – Kahlil Gibran

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises 
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, 
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine 
the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, 
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart 
and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow 
that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, 
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for 
that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” 
and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, 
and when one sits alone with you at your board, 
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales 
between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty 
are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you 
to weigh his gold and his silver, 
needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Music: Count It All Joy

Faithful Heart

January 17, 2022
Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Anthony. Abbot

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings help us understand the basic process for spiritual growth – the evolution from self-centered practice to God-centered faith.

The passages highlight three elements of a deeply faithful life:

Obedience – a listening heart
Discipline – a right heart
Freedom – a selfless heart

Obedience – The Listening Heart

In our first reading, Saul has fulfilled all God’s commands regarding the mission against the Amalekites – but he has still missed the point. Saul was given a divine mandate through Samuel to completely destroy the Amalekites. Instead, Saul kept the plunder, using some as a burnt sacrifice to God.

According to Samuel, Saul messed up big time. He had an unlistening heart. God didn’t want sacrifice, but rather a fully listening obedience.

But Samuel said:
            “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
            as in obedience to the command of the LORD?
            Obedience is better than sacrifice,
                        and submission than the fat of rams.
            For a sin like divination is rebellion,
                        and presumption is the crime of idolatry.
            Because you have rejected the command of the LORD,
                        the LORD too, has rejected you as ruler.”

1 Samuel 15: 22-23

Discipline – The Right Heart

Our Responsorial Psalm continues the theme:

Why do you recite my statutes,
            and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
            and cast my words behind you?”…

The ones that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
            and to them that go the right way I will show the salvation of God

Psalm 50: 16-17;23

Freedom – The Selfless Heart

Mark’s Gospel complements the lessons of our first two readings. It paints a joyful picture of Jesus and his disciples. 

They are in the “salad days” of Christ’s earth-shaking ministry. Listening to Jesus, these disciples are in the Presence of a new and radical Truth. They fill their hearts and minds with its transformative power. Cherishing God’s Presence with them allows the disciples to release a inner love and generosity to fuel their ministry.

The nosy Pharisees, seeing all this joyful exuberance, question their unpenitential attitude:

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus and objected,
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast,
 but your disciples do not fast?”

MARK 2:18

Does all this mean that there is never a time in the spiritual life for sackcloth, ashes and fasting? No – even Jesus didn’t say that:

Jesus answered the Pharisees,
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?
As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast on that day.

Mark 2:20

What I think it does mean is that a healthy spiritual life is centered on the Presence of God with us, not the absence. There are times when we should take stock of those “absences” and open them to repentance and healing. But then our spiritual energy should be turned to God in praise not toward our own penitential achievements.


Poetry: Flickering Mind – Denise Levertov

Lord, not you
it is I who am absent.
At first
belief was a joy I kept in secret,
stealing alone
into sacred places:
a quick glance, and away -- and back,
circling.
I have long since uttered your name
but now
I elude your presence.
I stop
to think about you, and my mind
at once
like a minnow darts away,
darts
into the shadows, into gleams that fret
unceasing over
the river's purling and passing.
Not for one second
will my self hold still, but wanders
anywhere,
everywhere it can turn.  Not you,
it is I am absent.
You are the stream, the fish, the light,
the pulsing shadow.
You the unchanging presence, in whom all
moves and changes.
How can I focus my flickering, perceive
at the fountain's heart
the sapphire I know is there?

Music: Sapphire Days – Anne Sweeten

Persevering Faith

January 14, 2022
Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings burst with lessons for our faith. We might center our prayer on these three dynamic elements:

Power
Praise
Perseverance


Power

In our first reading, Israel is in the midst of a profound power shift. Until this time, Israel has thrived in “covenantal localism” which released possibility and initiative within the broad community. But now, perhaps stressed by the Philistine threat, the elders lobby for the establishment of a kingship – a centralization of power, wealth, land control, and local self-determination.
( based on Walter Brueggemann: First and Second Samuel: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching)


The Elders Ask Samuel for a King

Samuel isn’t happy with the elders’ suggestion and, apparently, neither is God. Samuel tells the elders so in a passionate speech against regalism. He pronounces that when the king has usurped all their rights, God will not deliver them as they once were delivered from a similar bondage in Egypt:

When this takes place,
you will complain against the king whom you have chosen,
but on that day the LORD will not answer you.

1 Samuel 8:18

The lesson for us is that the use and organization of power must always be for the sake of communal justice and well-being. Fostering these universal goods is the perpetual struggle of nations and institutions. As part of any community, we are called advocate for a just distribution of power for all people.


Praise
Our Responsorial Psalm counsels that in all such human interactions, our focus must be on God and God’s Will for universal wholeness and peace – a peace evidenced in justice, joy, and praise.

Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;            
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,            
and through your justice they are exalted.

Psalm 89:16-17


Perseverance

Mark’s story of the cure of a paralyzed man demonstrates the power of faithful perseverance. This man’s community – his friends – persist until he fully benefits from God’s desire for his wholeness.

Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:4-5

Such is our responsibility to pursue our own wholeness and the wholeness of our global community.


Poetry: Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley

(The poem explores the fate of history and the ravages of time: even the greatest men and the empires they forge are impermanent, their legacies fated to decay into oblivion. (Wikipedia)

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: ‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
”Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’


Music: Aria – composed by Friedrich Gulda, played by Tomoko Inoue

Joy Complete

January 8, 2022
Saturday after Epiphany

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us a theme of CONFIDENCE with a dash of JOY.

John begins with the reassuring verse:

From the Latin root meaning “to have full trust”, confidence is a rare and beautiful blessing in our lives. How many people or things are you able to trust that deeply? Are you blessed with a true confidant in your life?

John tells us that this is the kind of relationship we can and should have with God.

He says that when we pray with this confidence, we trust whatever answer we receive to bring us grace and life.


Behold the Lamb of God – William Hatherell, from wiki gallery

In our Gospel, John the Baptist’s followers are having a little trouble with their confidence. They are unsettled by the appearance and rising popularity of Jesus. John says to trust what is happening. He had already told them that a greater One would come after him.

John’s ultimate response is worth repeating in prayer, “So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.”

When Christ shines through us
without hindrance of our pride or fears,
how complete our joy will be,
how profoundly rooted our confidence!

Poetry: JOHN THE BAPTIST: THE PASSOVER (JOHN 1:35–39) by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

For years he’d preached the coming was at hand.
Now John saw Jesus walking on the strand.
“Behold the Lamb of God!” he called, and sent
his own disciples hurrying. They went,
filling Jesus’ footprints in the sand
faster than the water could. John stayed and poured
the river on the people and passed them over to his Lord.

Zimmerman, Irene. Incarnation (p. 42). Cowley Publications. Kindle Edition.

Music: Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring – J.S. Bach (interpreted by Daniel Kobialka)

A Joyful Hint

December 12, 2021
Gaudete Sunday

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, Advent’s joyful midway pause.

Advent was originally, like Lent, a time of fasting. Midway in the fast, the Church took a break from its rigors and rejoiced prematurely for the coming Christmas. 


I remember going, as a grade schooler, with my mother to buy two candy bars on the Saturday before Gaudete (because most stores were closed on Sunday back then!) After Sunday Mass, we would hold a sort of “sweetness ceremony”, delighting in our choices. Mom’s was always a Milky Way. My choice ran with the fads, sticking for a few years on Rollos – remember them?


The Church has its own “sweet ceremony” on Gaudate Sunday. Pink vestments worn for the liturgy indicate joy, as do the uplifting readings.

In our first reading, Zephania tells us that “the Lord will rejoice over us with gladness!”

 Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
        Sing joyfully, O Israel!
    Be glad and exult with all your heart,
        O daughter Jerusalem!

Zephania 3:14

In a reassuring blessing, Paul tells us, “Don’t worry. Be happy!”

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again:  rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding 
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 4-7

Even serious John the Baptist seems to tingle with expectation of the coming Savior. He’s just a little more taciturn in his proclamations.

John answered them all, saying, 
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3: 16-17

In our terribly commercialized holiday world, let’s stop and remember the true cause of our hope and celebration.

What gives your heart real joy as we approach the holy celebration of Christmas?

What is the sacred delight you long for in your heart and soul?

Let’s make a deeper effort this week, which will require so much bustle of us, to settle our hearts on God – remembering that God’s sweet presence with us is what this whole season is about. 


Poetry: The Flower by George Herbert

How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean 
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring; 
         To which, besides their own demean, 
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring. 
                      Grief melts away 
                      Like snow in May, 
         As if there were no such cold thing. 

         Who would have thought my shriveled heart 
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone 
         Quite underground; as flowers depart 
To see their mother-root, when they have blown, 
                      Where they together 
                      All the hard weather, 
         Dead to the world, keep house unknown. 

         These are thy wonders, Lord of power, 
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell 
         And up to heaven in an hour; 
Making a chiming of a passing-bell. 
                      We say amiss 
                      This or that is: 
         Thy word is all, if we could spell. 

         Oh that I once past changing were, 
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither! 
         Many a spring I shoot up fair, 
Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither; 
                      Nor doth my flower 
                      Want a spring shower, 
         My sins and I joining together. 

         But while I grow in a straight line, 
Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own, 
         Thy anger comes, and I decline: 
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone 
                      Where all things burn, 
                      When thou dost turn, 
         And the least frown of thine is shown? 

         And now in age I bud again, 
After so many deaths I live and write; 
         I once more smell the dew and rain, 
And relish versing. Oh, my only light, 
                      It cannot be 
                      That I am he 
         On whom thy tempests fell all night. 

         These are thy wonders, Lord of love, 
To make us see we are but flowers that glide; 
         Which when we once can find and prove, 
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide; 
                      Who would be more, 
                      Swelling through store, 
         Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.


Music: Gaudete in Domino sung by the Schola of St. Meinrad Abbey (Latin and English lyrics below)

Gaudete in Domino semper
iterum dico gaudete.
Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus.
Dominus prope est.
Nihil solliciti sitis
sed in omni oratione et obsecratione
cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.
Et pax Dei quae exsuperat omnem sensum custodiat corda vestra et intellegentias vestras in Christo Iesu [Domino nostro].

Rejoice in the Lord always:
and again I say, rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men.
The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing;
but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus [our Lord].

The Eternal Song

December 2, 2021
Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah promises the people that they will sing a song in the land of Judah.  It will be a song that celebrates confidence in God, justice, enduring faith, peace and trust.


Do you ever sing to God when your heart is filled like that? I don’t mean Church-singing or words somebody else wrote. 

I mean that sweet, indecipherable whisper a mother breathes over her child, or the mix of a hundred half-remembered melodies we hum when we are lost in the fullness of our lives.

And I don’t just mean the happy songs.

I mean the songs of loss and longing, awe and wonderment at life’s astounding turns. I mean even the sounds of silence when the refrain within us cannot be spoken.

When your heart is really stuck, unable to find the words to express the depth of your joy, longing or sorrow, try singing to God like that. So many times, I have done this while out on a solitary walk, or sitting by the water’s edge, or even driving on an open road. Sometimes, God even sings back!


Isaiah’s people were able to sing their song because they held on to faith and acted in justice. In our Gospel, Jesus tells us that this must be the way of our prayer too. He says that simply saying, “Lord, Lord” won’t cut it!

Real prayer is not just words. It is a life given to hearing God’s Word and acting on it. Real prayer is about always singing our lives in rhythm with the infinite, merciful melody of God.


Poetry: Every Riven Thing ~ Christian Wiman

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he’s made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.


Music: Bless the Lord, My Soul – Matt Redman

We Remember

November 2, 2021
All Souls Day

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 23, that familiar pastoral which, for millennia, has comforted our griefs and fears.

The Lord is my shepherd; 
I shall not want.
You make me lie down in green pastures 
and lead me beside still waters.
You revive my soul
and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.

Psalm 23: 1-3

But even for us who believe, it’s a somber day.

Because we just don’t know, do we? We believe. We hope. We trust. But we just don’t know

  • how life can seem to end so finally
  • why love’s cord seems to break, or at least to tangle
  • where they go when they leave us
  • when we will see them again

That’s why I think that, in many ways, All Souls Day is for us, the living. The act of corporate remembrance lets us hold up before one another these profound “unanswerables” while saying, “Still, I believe; I hope; I love.”

We give one another strength on All Souls Day to choose eternal life in a world that often casts only a deadly shadow. 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.

Psalm 23: 4

Today, we participate in a treasured spiritual exercise for us – those who remain:

We remember.

By our holy remembering:

  • We bless in our departed beloveds what – in life – we might have taken for granted.
  • We cherish their goodness and acknowledge their weaknesses.
  • We consider that our love and longing for them is but a pale reflection of God’s own.
  • We release our dear family and friends into that Immense Love.

As part of the great Communion of Saints, we release even those who have no one holding on to them. By our prayer for them, we attest our love to a heavenly family we have yet to meet.

Our dear Catherine McAuley said this, even in a time when she was faced with constant loss and bereavement:

Shall we all meet in Heaven?
Oh what joy even to think of it!

Venerable Catherine McAuley

On All Souls Day, we do think of it – and are consoled by a quiet, indescribable joy.

You spread a table before me
despite anything that troubles me;
you have anointed my head with oil;
Indeed, my cup is running over.
Surely this goodness and mercy follows us always
and we will dwell in your house for ever.

Psalm 23: 5-6

Poetry: Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) – O Shepherd of Souls

O Shepherd of souls
and O, First Voice
through whom all creation was summoned,
now to you,
to you may it give pleasure and dignity
to liberate us
from our miseries and languishing.

Music: Stand in the Light – Jordan Smith 

As we remember all our faithful departed today, we pray that we may all stand in the Light.

Don’t Pass Me By

October 24, 2021
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 126, a song of irrepressible joy at Divine Deliverance:

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
    we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with rejoicing.

Then they said among the nations,
    “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
    we are glad indeed.

Psalm 126: 1-3

The psalm captures for us
a community which
recognizes, beseeches,
and thanks God for its deliverance.

Our Gospel presents us with a story of someone who is delivered – the blind man, Bartimeus. He is an otherwise unknown character in scripture. Yet this short passage suggests so much about him.

It is stated that he was the son of Timeus, apparently someone of note in the community – otherwise, why mention his name? And yet this notable man’s blind son is left to begging on the side of the road. Had disability driven father and son apart? Was Dad unable to accept a son with a physical challenge?

The passage also reveals that Bartimeus knew about Jesus. Perhaps while begging in the public square, he talked and listened. He daydreamed about what he planned to do if he should ever have a chance to meet Jesus!

His cronies in the marketplace were not very supportive. They told him to shut up, even as he pathetically cried for Jesus’s mercy. Still, Bartimues persisted and Jesus heard him.

When he comes to Jesus, Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” It has always struck me as a strange question. The man is obviously blind, stumbling through the crowd on some disciple’s arm. Why did Jesus bother to ask what Bartimeus wanted?


This might be the lesson hidden in this Gospel. We need to name and claim our needs before God can reach through and transform them. If we don’t even know we’re “blind”, how can we know we’re cured? If we don’t present our needs to God, how can we believe that it is God Who has healed us?

The freshly cured Bartimeus, eyes wide open in grace, now follows along the path with Jesus. All the “shut-uppers” are silenced. Perhaps, Timeus weeps off in a doorway to see the power of his son’s faith and Jesus’s love.

How might our lives be changed if we had that kind of faith… that kind of love?


Poetry: Blind Bartimeus – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Blind Bartimeus at the gates
Of Jericho in darkness waits;
He hears the crowd;--he hears a breath
Say, "It is Christ of Nazareth!"
And calls, in tones of agony,
Ἰησοῦ ἐλέησόν με! (Have mercy on me!)

The thronging multitudes increase;
Blind Bartimeus, hold thy peace!
But still, above the noisy crowd,
The beggar's cry is shrill and loud;
Until they say, "He calleth thee!"
Θάρσει ἔγειρε φωνεῖ σε! (Jesus is calling you)

Then saith the Christ, as silent stands
The crowd, "What wilt thou at my hands?"
And he replies, "Oh, give me light!
Rabbi, restore the blind man's sight."
And Jesus answers, "ὕπαγε
πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε!" (Your faith has saved you)

Ye that have eyes, yet cannot see,
In darkness and in misery,
Recall those mighty Voices Three,
Ἰησοῦ ἐλέησόν με! (Have mercy on me.)
Θάρσει ἔγειρε φωνεῖ σε! (Jesus is calling you.)
ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέν σε! (Your faith has saved you.)

Music: Don’t Pass Me By – Fred Hammond (lyrics below)

There was a blind man on the road side, and he heard a commotion
It was Jesus passing by with a crowd and it stirred his emotions
He’d been displaced his whole life, should he even try

Don’t bother Jesus (they say you have nothing)
You have nothing to offer (stay in your place)
Right then he knew(he had to choose)
He had nothing to lose

So he cried Jesus (Jesus), I need you,  please don’t pass me by
He cried out Jesus, I’m not ashamed(to tell you) I need you in my life
(I need you in my life)

I’m not much different from that man, and this is the honest truth
Could this sinful one, with this messed up life, could I ever serve you
people and things clutter my mind, should I even try

Don’t bother Jesus (they say you have nothing)
You have nothing to offer (stay in your place)
Right then he knew (he had to choose)
He had nothing to lose

So I cry Jesus(Jesus), I need you
Please don’t pass me by
I’m crying out Jesus, I’m not ashamed to tell you I need you in my life

As the deer (as the deer panted)
Thirsty for the water yeah(thirsty for the water)
My soul desires and longs to be(to be with you)

Jesus, I need you, please don’t pass me by
I don’t mean to waste your time but I can’t listen to the crowd,
Situations in my life telling me to keep it down
But I need you

I know I’m broken, but you can heal me, Jesus, Jesus I’m calling you
(I might not be worth much)might not be worth much, but I’m still willing
Jesus, Jesus, I’m calling you

Stirred, Not Shaken

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time 
October 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 97 which is built on two themes:

  • God reigns over all the earth
  • those who acknowledge God’s power have abundant reason to rejoice

This is good news for the people to whom Joel is preaching! Joel’s community has been devastated by locusts and drought. They are surrounded by adversaries. Life is just not easy for them. They have felt abandoned by God.

But Joel tells them that indeed God is annoyed, but still is always on the side of the faithful.

The LORD roars from Zion,
    and from Jerusalem raises his voice;
The heavens and the earth quake,
    but the LORD is a refuge to his people,
    a stronghold to the children of Israel.
Then shall you know that I, the LORD, am your God,
    dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain;
Jerusalem shall be holy,
    and strangers shall pass through her no more.


Psalm 97 reflects the same confident promise to all who suffer. Despite everything we are to rejoice!

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
    before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim God’s justice,
    and all peoples see God’s glory.
R.    Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
    and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
    and give thanks to God’s holy name.


So we are encouraged to heed Joel’s advice – to stir up our hearts in faith, to look around at all the faith-filled promises of nature mentioned in our first reading. We can learn:

  • from the sun which both rises and sets
  • from the moon which turns its mood but never disappears
  • from snow and rain which cycle invisibly through the years
  • from the leaves which hold the secret of eternal life

God abides with us, even amidst the “droughts” and “locusts”. And if we are faithful, all will be well.


Poetry: There are many wonderful images in Joel 4. One is that of the “Valley of Decision”, an image that has lent itself to many applications in art and literature. Here is one such poem:

OK — two of my “favoritest” actors!!!!

The Valley of Decision by John Oxenham

The World is in the Valley of Decision; 
It is standing at the parting of the ways; 
Will it climb the steps of God to realm elysian — 
Or fall on horror of still darker days? 

Will it free itself of every shameful shackle? 
Will it claim the glorious freedom of the brave? 
Will it lose the soul of Life in this debacle, 
And sink into a mean dishonored grave?

All the world is in the Valley of Decision, 
And out of it there is but one sure road; 
Eyes unsealed can still foresee the mighty vision 
Of a world in travail turning unto God.
 
All the world is in the Valley of Decision. 
Who shall dare its future destiny foretell? 
Will it yield its soul unto the Heavenly Vision, 
Or sink despairing into its own hell?

The World is in the Valley of Decision; 
— It is standing at the parting of the ways; 
Will it climb the steps of God to realm elysian — 
— Or fall on horror of still darker days?


Will it free itself of every shameful shackle?
— Will it claim the glorious freedom of the brave? 
Will it lose the soul of Life in this debacle, 
— And sink into a mean dishonored grave?
 
All the world is in the Valley of Decision, —
And out of it there is but one sure road; 
Eyes unsealed can still foresee the mighty vision 
— Of a world in travail turning unto God. 

All the world is in the Valley of Decision. 
— Who shall dare its future destiny foretell? 
Will it yield its soul unto the Heavenly Vision,
— Or sink despairing into its own hell?


Music: It Is Well – Kristene DiMarco

God Delights in Us!

Memorial of Padre Pio 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 149, a call to praise God in festive celebration because God will enjoy that!

Praying with that thought today, I ask myself:

Is my God a happy God?

Our psalm says “Yes!” – a Lover of song, joy, praise, dance, timbrel and harp!

Hallelujah!
Sing to the Lord a new song; 
sing the praises of God in the company of the faithful. 
Let Israel rejoice in their maker;
let the children of Zion be joyful in their sovereign. 
Let them praise the name of the Lord in the dance;
let them sing praise to God with timbrel and harp. 
For the Lord takes pleasure in this people.

Psalm 149:1-4

Only a happy God could have imagined the beautiful gift of Creation we have been given. Stop today to listen, watch, and feel that happiness in sun, rain, wood scent, birdsong, cat purr, baby breath, child play, elder eyes, or the thousand other ways God will try to touch your soul today.


( Praying for the safety of all our friends in Australia with the earthquakes and for people of the Canary Islands.❤️🙏)


Poetry: The Creation of Birds – Renee Yann, RSM

O, the wonderful mood that seized You,
God, as you created birds;
you dancing there, twirling in light,
flinging your crystal arms to infinite music,
flicking your hands like magic fountains,
feathers and colors splashing out from your fingertips,
chattering, rainbowed profusions
of your Boundless Life.

Your inexhaustible, joy-filled soul laughing out
the soaring beings into the still universe,
peals of you infusing them each
to their measure with notes of your inner song.
O, I see your Holy Eyes flash color to them
as they fly, strobing their feathers
with shards of your prismed white light.

This morning, seeing only one, 
free and jubilant in a thin sycamore,
I consume it as part of your Delightful Essence,
this day’s communion with you, 
grey and orange wafer filling me 
with mysteries of the primal dance 
from which we both were born.

Music: You Delight in Me – Life Center Worship