A God-aligned Heart

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 6, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, one theme threaded through our readings is that of “The Law”.

“Law” is a frustratingly elastic word and concept which runs the gamut from tyranny to benevolent guidance depending on who administers it.

2thess3_5 scale

In both our first reading and our Gospel, we find people trying to curtail the freedom of others by invoking the Law. In 2 Maccabees, King Antiochus attempts to incorporate the Jewish people by fracturing their religious practice, that which identifies and unites them as Jews. On the surface, the story seems to be about eating pork, and one might wonder if that resistance is worth dying for.

But the real conflict is between tyrannical domination and spiritual freedom, between “Empire” and “Kingdom” – a struggle we have seen endlessly repeated through history and current events.

When “law” is interpreted to advantage some and suppress others, it is no longer law. The essence of law is always the wise administration of mercy balanced with justice. The understanding of such law grows from covenanted relationship with the Creator who wills the good and wholeness of all Creatures.


In today’s Gospel, some Sadducees (perhaps sincere, but more likely trying to trap Jesus) ask him to solve a hypothetical problem regarding marriage in the afterlife.

Jesus doesn’t bite. He explains to the questioners that eternal life transcends all their human perceptions of time, relationship and law. The earthly laws by which we either bind or free one another in this world evaporate in Heaven. Only Mercy and Justice order eternal life in the Kingdom of God. ultimately, “law” is alignment of heart with God’s.


Paul tells us that we are called to be examples of that eternal kingdom now. He knows how hard it is, and so he blesses us:

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through his grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed
and word.


May God’s law of love align our hearts
so that we
– like the Maccabees, like Jesus –
will have the courage and strength to live it
in a sometimes hostile world.


Poetry: The Higher Pantheism – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains,- 
Are not these, O Soul, the Vision of Him who reigns?
 
Is not the Vision He, tho’ He be not that which He seems? 
Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams? 

Earth, these solid stars, this weight of body and limb, 
Are they not sign and symbol of thy division from Him? 

Dark is the world to thee; thyself art the reason why, 
For is He not all but thou, that hast power to feel “I am I”? 

Glory about thee, without thee; and thou fulfillest thy doom, 
Making Him broken gleams and a stifled splendour and gloom. 

Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet- 
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet. 

God is law, say the wise; O soul, and let us rejoice, 
For if He thunder by law the thunder is yet His voice. 

Law is God, say some; no God at all, says the fool, 
For all we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool; 

And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see; 
But if we could see and hear, this Vision-were it not He? 


Music: The Law of the Lord is Perfect

Beautiful Luke

Feast of St. Luke, evangelist
October 18, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of St. Luke, evangelist, writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, and devoted missionary companion of Paul.

Ps145 Luke

Luke’s Gospel is unique in several ways. 

Six miracles appear only in Luke:

  • the miraculous catch of fish
  • the raising of the widow’s only son
  • healing a possessed, crippled woman
  • healing a man with dropsy
  • cleansing of ten lepers 
  • healing the man’s ear in Gethsemane

Eighteen parables are unique to Luke, including the beloved stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

vangogh_samaritaan_grt
Van Gogh’s Good Samaritan

While both Matthew and Luke contain the story of Christ’s birth, only Luke includes those beautiful passages which now comprise the joyful mysteries of the rosary: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation, and Finding in the Temple.

Only Luke gives us the Magnificat and the cherished words of the Hail Mary.

Think of all that we would not be able to visualize without Luke’s blessed writings. No Gabriel. No Elizabeth, Zachary, Anna or Simeon. No tender Samaritan or merciful loving Prodigal Father to show us God’s face.

300px-Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn_-_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Google_Art_Project
Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son

Maybe some of your favorite passages are among these Lucan treasures. You might want to choose one to accompany you throughout your day.

Poetry: A Sonnet for St. Luke – Malcolm Guite

His gospel is itself a living creature
A ground and glory round the throne of God,
Where earth and heaven breathe through human nature
And One upon the throne sees it is good.
Luke is the living pillar of our healing,
A lowly ox, the servant of the four,
We turn his page to find his face revealing
The wonder, and the welcome of the poor.
He breathes good news to all who bear a burden
Good news to all who turn and try again,
The meek rejoice and prodigals find pardon,
A lost thief reaches paradise through pain,
The voiceless find their voice in every word
And, with Our Lady, magnify Our Lord.

The music today is a country song, not really about St. Luke’s Gospel, but certainly reflecting its love and respect for those who are poor.

Music: The Gospel According to Luke ~ Skip Ewing

One Family – Like It or Not!

Monday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
October 3, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Gospel gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is a story in which we can all find ourselves, maybe changing roles in the changing circumstances of our lives.

IMG_6600

Have we ever been the robbers, the bullies, the outlaws who in some way used force or subterfuge to gain their own advantage? We don’t have to be a criminal to do this. We can do it by our prejudices, our preferential treatment, our gossip, our secrets and our cliques. We can do it by our uninformed or willful choices which deprive others of their needs and rights.

Have we ever been the Levite, the one who claims a special religious place by family heritage? Have we ever, like the Levite in the parable, bypassed someone because of her religion or ethnic origins – because she isn’t “like us”?

Have we ever been this pathetic priest who so completely misunderstands the role of minister – who ignores God’s suffering creature for fear of some imagined contamination?

Have we ever been the victim, the one set upon by the meanness of others, the one unable to heal himself from injury? Has the memory made us more like the Samaritan or like the robbers once we were healed?

And finally, have we ever been the Samaritan? Do we even want to be? Or do we think him foolish to have given his own time and treasure for a stranger?

This parable is a study in differences and how we respond to them. Some use differences to separate rather than enrich their world. They fail to understand that we all belong to each other and will live forever as one family in heaven. If we don’t learn to do it in this life, we won’t be part of it in the life to come.

Realizing this may change how we might have responded on that ancient road – or the road right now where we’re all just walking each other home.

Poetry: Vagrant – Mary Wickham, rsm

I am the mad one you will not shelter;
I am the beggar you will not own;
I am the ranter, the intemperate raver;
I am the self you hurl from home.
My passion frightens and dismays you,
I am garrulously obscene and wild.
My rage your own unleashes for view;
I am your willful, untameable child.
Reject, deny, revile, deride me-
until you embrace me I am bound;
my need will cry till I am free,
you are lost unless I am found.

Music: Take All the Lost Home ~ Joe Wise

The Name of Mercy

Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of Our Lady of Mercy
September 24, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092422.cfm

Today, as the Mercy Family throughout the world celebrates Mercy Day, we praise and thank God for the call given to Venerable Catherine McAuley to respond to God’s grace by founding the Sisters of Mercy.

mercy2018

On September 24, 1827, Catherine used an unexpected inheritance to open a house for poor and homeless women in Dublin. It began with two, Catherine and Mary Ann Doyle – and that small, vibrant fire has lit the hearts of millions ever since.

Many of you, dear readers, carry that fire and will know Catherine’s story well. But some still unfamiliar with her life might want to explore this website:

For those of us who treasure a share in Catherine’s call, today’s readings may suggest several points for reflection. Ecclesiastes directs us to remember our “young call” that first turned us toward Mercy. It was full of fire and love which changed our lives. Today we pray in thanksgiving for that call and reiterate our desire to be transformed in Mercy

https://www.mercyworld.org/catherine/introducing-catherine/

To gain courage and energy for that transformation, let us reach through time for Catherine’s hand, telling her how we share her dream for God’s Mercy for all Creation. Let us ask her to enliven us each morning with the same passion for justice, the same compassionate tenderness, the same welcoming heart by which she showed others the Lavish Mercy of God.

Are there not moments when we are overwhelmed by that Mercy welling up within us and around us, flowing from good hearts over the world’s needs? We see and bless this grace in each other, dear Family, as we thank God this day to be called “Mercy”.

May each of your lives be richly blessed and marked by that name!


Today, I thought you might enjoy this powerful poem by Denise Levertov.
The music link is beneath it.
 Happy and blessed Mercy Day to all.



To Live in the Mercy of God

To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees. How far the stems
rise, rise
before ribs of shelter
open!

To live in the mercy of God. The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of
stony wood beneath lenient
moss bed.

And awe suddenly
passing beyond itself. Becomes
a form of comfort.
Becomes the steady
air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.

To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest depths of their listening.

To float, upheld,
as salt water
would hold you,
once you dared.

To live in the mercy of God.
To feel vibrate the enraptured
waterfall flinging itself
unabating down and down
to clenched fists of rock.

Swiftness of plunge,
hour after year after century,
O or Ah
uninterrupted, voice
many-stranded.

To breathe
spray. The smoke of it.
Arcs
of steelwhite foam, glissades
of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—
rage or joy?

Thus, not mild, not temperate,
God’s love for the world. Vast
flood of mercy
flung on resistance.
———-

Music: Mercy ~ Matt Redman

Heartfelt Mercy

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul reminds us and calls us to live as Christ’s Body.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Our prayer might lead us to ask ourselves, “How exactly have I been part of Christ’s Body in my life today?”.


The Gospel story of the widow of Nain could help us answer. Reading it, I remember standing by a large walkway window at the Louisville Airport on a sweltering July day in 2005.

Down on the heat-softened tarmac, a small bevy of soldiers stood at attention. Slowly, a flag-draped casket was lowered into their waiting arms. Just to the side, a huddled family, waited as well. Two children clung to either side of their young mother. An older couple stood behind her, hands gentled on her shoulders.

At the window, several other travelers gathered in silence. A few teenage boys removed their inverted baseball caps when they noticed a distinguished older gentleman stand tall and hold a salute.

No one who witnessed that brief ceremony will ever forget it. The grief, reverence and astonishment at life’s fragility emblazoned the moment on every witnessing heart.



When Jesus passed the gates of Nain on that ancient morning, he had a like experience. He saw this “only son of a widowed mother”. Once again, shaken to his roots with compassion –splancha, he pulled heaven down to heal heart-breaking loss.

As Jesus drew near to the gate of the city
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his widowed mother.

How I wished Jesus were flying out of Louisville that day in 2005! But then I realized He was there. The miracle was hidden, but still real. The Divine Compassion flowed through me, through the reverent gathering beside me, through the soldiers’ honoring arms, through the long prayerful memory we would all forever share.

That young man from Nain was raised from the dead… for a while. He, like all of us, eventually died. The miracle was not about him and his life. The miracle was the visible sign of God’s Lavish Mercy for us – God’s “feeling-with-us” in all our experiences. That compassion, whether miraculously visible or not, is always with us. It just took a different form that day in Louisville.

The baptismal commission to be Christ’s Body in the world calls each of us to the same type of compassion, of “being with” those who suffer, of honoring the God-given life of every person, and of believing in its ultimate resurrection.

Poetry: FIRSTBORN SONS AND THE WIDOW OF NAIN (LUKE 7:11–15)
by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

Jesus halted on the road outside Nain
where a woman’s wailing drenched the air.
Out of the gates poured a somber procession
of dark-shawled women, hushed children,
young men bearing a litter that held
a body swathed in burial clothes,
and the woman, walking alone.

A widow then—another bundle
of begging rags at the city gates.
A bruised reed!

Her loud grief labored and churned in him till
“Halt!” he shouted.
The crowd, the woman, the dead man stopped.
Dust, raised by sandaled feet,
settled down again on the sandy road.
Insects waited in shocked silence.
He walked to the litter, grasped a dead hand.
“Young man,” he called
in a voice that shook the walls of Sheol,
“I command you, rise!” The linens stirred.
Two firstborn sons from Nazareth and Nain
met, eye to eye. He placed the pulsing hand into hers.
“Woman, behold your son,” he smiled.

Music:  The Body of Christ – Sarah Hart

Prodigal: Another Word for “Lavish”

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 11, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091122.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Exodis tells a story of Moses’ intervention to save the people from God’s wrath. It is a story of God’s relenting … a theme which repeats itself endlessly in the Hebrew Scriptures.

This is the way we sometimes characterize the astonishment of Grace – God’s overwhelming passion to love and forgive us over and over. We just can’t imagine such mercy, such infinite generative love!

And so we imagine instead that Moses made God do it! Yeah, I don’t think so. 😉


We imagine that God cannot tolerate our sinful pursuits because we cannot tolerate them in ourselves or in others. But God is mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, wholeness, love. God can’t help loving us!

Of course, we shouldn’t be stupid and take advantage of the divine largesse… not because it would hurt God, but because it so damages us and limits our capacity for wholeness. But nevertheless, whether we’re stupid or not, God will always welcome us home.

Today’s readings are example of a word we’ve used few times in Lavish Mercy 

splancha

– that “gut love” that so describes God’s prodigal passion for us. We find the word again today in the heart-wrenching parable of the Prodigal Son.

prodigal son

You know the story. Near the end, as the devastated son returns seeking mercy…

While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion — with splancha – esplanchnisthē
Luke 15:20

Our God is a Love that is filled, overflowing – with no room for retribution or condemnation.

Indeed, our God, like the Prodigal Father, is soft-hearted, an easy mark, a pushover for our sincere repentance, trust, and hope. Our God would bleed for us — just as Jesus did!


This short but powerful scene from George Balanchine’s ballet, Prodigal Son, may inspire our prayer today. The father is steadfast, a monolith of strength and love. The son is broken, naked in his desperation. Let their magnetic reunion take you to God’s heart. Let God wrap you too in the mantle of Love for any hurt or emptiness that is within you.

George Balanchine “Prodigal Son” – Final Scene (Son- Barishnikov)

Claude Debussy also wrote a beautiful piece on this parable. If you have a contemplative space sometime this week, you may want to listen to Debussy’s moving opera (with my all-time fav Ms. Jessye Norman.)

Click here for full opera

If you have only a little time, do try this – short, and oh so beautiful!

Music: Debussy The Prodigal Son – Prelude

Alleluia: Discerning Word

Tuesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
August 23, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082322.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus and Paul both get downright serious about true spiritual discernment — in other words,

“Stop the bull(ony)!

The passage from Thessalonians indicates that “conspiracy theories” are not just a sick modern phenomenon. Apparently some religious charlatans were trying to delude the neophyte Christian community with threats about the end of the world. Paul is adamant in his advice:

Do not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly,
or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,”
or by an oral statement,
or by a letter allegedly from us
to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.
Let no one deceive you in any way.

2 Thessolians 2:2

Jesus “woes” the Pharisees once again for a similar type of deluding behavior. For their own advancement, they impose minute religious entanglements which block the true purpose of the law:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.

Matthew 23:23

Jesus employs a great image to correct such delusions:

You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean.

Matthew 23:25

In matters of faith, always look inside the cup for “justice, mercy and fidelity”. If instead you find “plunder and self-indulgences”, you can be sure it is not the word of God.

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.


Poetry: A Cup Story – Author Unknown

You are holding a cup of coffee when 
someone comes along and accidentally bumps you 
and shakes your arm, 
making you spill coffee everywhere.
Why did you spill the coffee?
Because someone bumped into you, right?
Wrong answer.
You spilled the coffee because coffee was in the cup.
If tea had been in it, you would have spilled tea.
Whatever is inside the cup is what will come out.
Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you,
whatever is inside of you will come out. 
So each of us has to ask ourselves..... what's in my cup?
When life gets bumpy, what spills over?
Joy, gratefulness, peace, and humility?
Or anger, bitterness, harsh words, and reactions?
We choose what's in our cup!

Music: Inside of the Cup – Ernst Samuel

Alleluia: How Beautiful!

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 5, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer me an invitation to write a more personal reflection than usual.

Recently, our community has experienced the deaths of two dearly loved sisters. Readers might remember that I mentioned Margery’s funeral a few days ago. And just yesterday, Clare Miriam died. Each of them was an amazing minister of the Gospel and lover of God’s poor.

See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news, 
announcing peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O beloved,
fulfill your vows!

Nahum 2:1

Because most of us live in communities – familial, social, and religious – we all move through ever-turning circles of hellos and good-byes. In those turnings, we touch one another’s lives in a thousand obvious and subtle ways, hopefully causing our own lives to spin ever closer to God.

Funerals – even though we don’t look forward to them – are times when the circling pauses. We see a beloved person’s complex and amazing existence like a still life masterpiece. We see the graceful details we may have overlooked or taken for granted. We appreciate the lights and shadows of their struggles and triumphs. We see God standing behind the easel of their story inviting us to deepen our own graces as we pray.

In a large and long-loved community like the Sisters of Mercy, we accompany one another through many funerals and many home-goings. It can feel a little heavy sometimes because of the love we bear another. But, oddly, it can also give an unexpected buoyancy to our hope and faith to honor these precious lives – one after another – so lovingly given, so faithfully lived, so beautifully completed.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.

Matthew 16:25-27

After Margery’s funeral Mass, my friend turned to me and said, “What a tribute to a truly beautiful soul …. and we live in a community full of them!” Indeed, and now another, dear Clare has lifted her life up to God as the rest of us sing, “Brava! Alleluia! Amen!”

Whenever I attend one of our sister’s funerals, of course, I consider my own. Sometimes, while the soulful music plays, I design the Mass booklet in my mind and the cover says this: 

My dear Sisters of Mercy,
thank you 
for the privilege and gift 
of living among you!


Poetry: The Neophyte- Alice Meynell

Who knows what days I answer for to-day?
   Giving the bud I give the flower. I bow
   This yet unfaded and a faded brow;
Bending these knees and feeble knees, I pray.
 Thoughts yet unripe in me I bend one way,
   Give one repose to pain I know not now,
   One check to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.
 O rash! (I smile) to pledge my hidden wheat.
   I fold to-day at altars far apart
Hands trembling with what toils? In their retreat
   I seal my love to-be, my folded art.
I light the tapers at my head and feet,
   And lay the crucifix on this silent heart.

Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeanette Goglia, RSM

Alleluia: An Ageless Love

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 3, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080322.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited the people.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings carry the themes of Hope and Restoration.

Jeremiah tells the people that, even after all they’ve been through, God has an age-old love for them and therefore will not abandon them.

Jeremiah continues with a description of the future coming of the Savior, promising that Israel will be restored:

Yes, a day will come when the watchmen
will call out on Mount Ephraim:
“Rise up, let us go to Zion,
to the LORD, our God.”
For thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered the people,
the remnant of Israel.

Our Alleluia Verse announces that this expected Savior has arrived in Jesus Christ, the Divine Shepherd, Lord, Guardian and Redeemer whom Jeremiah describes in our Responsorial Psalm.

Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited the people.


Matthew’s Gospel today, which can seem a little contentious in tone, actually demonstrates the surprising truth that Jesus came not only for the sake of Israel, but for all people — for us.

We are all beneficiaries of God’s age-old love for us.

Poetry: You are the future, the great sunrise red – Rainer Maria Rilke

You are the future, the great sunrise red
above the broad plains of eternity.
You are the cock-crow when time’s night has fled,
You are the dew, the matins, and the maid,
the stranger and the mother, you are death.

You are the changeful shape that out of Fate
rears up in everlasting solitude,
the unlamented and the unacclaimed,
beyond describing as some savage wood.

You are the deep epitome of things
that keeps its being’s secret with locked lip,
and shows itself to others otherwise:
to the ship, a haven — to the land, a ship.


Music: I Have Loved You – Michael Joncas 

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his light and his peace.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his joy and his hope.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his care and his love.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Alleluia: Innocence!

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 21, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/072122.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jeremiah images Israel as a bride, the sacred betrothed of God:

I remember the devotion of your youth,
how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the desert,
in a land unsown.
Sacred to the LORD was Israel,
the first fruits of his harvest;
Should any presume to partake of them,
evil would befall them, says the LORD.

Jeremiah 2: 1-3

These passionate verses portray a heartbroken and angry God lamenting Israel’s ingratitude and unfaithfulness.

Be amazed at this, O heavens,
and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.
Two evils have my people done:
they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
broken cisterns, that hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:12-13

This reading from Jeremiah is about a loss of innocence, and the spiritual fragmentation it can bring. Our Alleluia Verse, on the other hand, leads to a Gospel that proclaims the restoration of an “eternal innocence” rooted in “knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven”.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, God,
Creator of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones
the mysteries of the Kingdom.

There is a human innocence that comes from not knowing any better, a kind of blind trust that hasn’t yet been “burned”.

But don’t confuse “innocence” with naïveté.

The Gospel innocence Jesus describes isn’t blind and it isn’t naive. It does know better. It recognizes and chooses the cost of a faithful life. That recognition and choice yield a profound spiritual freedom that is the ultimate innocence.

Blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Matthew 13: 16-17

Poetry: The Divine Image – William Blake

from The Project Gutenberg
To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight 
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, 
Is God our Father dear
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, 
Is man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart ; 
Pity, a human face ;
And Love, the human form divine ;
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress, 
Prays to the human form divine :
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form, 
In heathen, Turk, or Jew,
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell, 
There God is dwelling too.

Music: U2 – A Song for Someone from Songs of Innocence

When you listen to this highly poetic song, could God be your “someone”?