Alleluia: Green Grapes!

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 13, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the core of our readings is about innocence and authenticity. But you have to dig a little to get to that. Maybe, like me, you finished  our first reading asking, “So what’s with the green grapes!?”

A common expression in ancient Israel suggested that people’s bad luck was a punishment for their parent’s sins. It was a handy way of avoiding responsibility for one’s own foolish actions, often the actual source of one’s misfortune.

Ezekiel uses the expression to teach a lesson about the nature of God’s love and forgiveness. God loves us completely – without prejudice, without vengeance. There is no record of faults to “set our teeth on edge”. There are no “green grapes” on God’s table. God only wants our wholeness.

Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel,
each one according to their own ways, says the Lord GOD.
Turn and be converted from all your crimes,
that they may be no cause of guilt for you.
Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

God will not let us hide behind excuses like a bogus “Green Grapes Theory”. As in any loving relationship, we must be honest with God, own our faults, seek forgiveness, and love ardently.

Jesus uses the example of a little child to show us how to do this. Each one of us is born with a core of innocence and authenticity. These are the attributes of God’s life in us. Throughout our lives there are times when we hide these blessings under our sinfulness. Some people bury them so deep that they lose touch with their own sacred integrity.

Jesus calls us back out of our excuses and our excesses, just as the Lord called Ezekiel’s community. We are invited to an eternal covenant rooted in the gift of divine innocence and authenticity given to us at our creation.

Jesus said:
Let the children come to me,
and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven
belongs to such as these.

Poetry: The Pursuit – Henry Vaughn

LORD ! what a busy, restless thing
Hast Thou made man !
Each day and hour he is on wing,
Rests not a span ;
Then having lost the sun and light,
By clouds surpris’d,
He keeps a commerce in the night
With air disguis’d.
Hadst Thou given to this active dust
A state untir’d,
The lost son had not left the husk,
Nor home desir’d.
That was Thy secret, and it is
Thy mercy too ;
For when all fails to bring to bliss,
Then this must do.
Ah, Lord ! and what a purchase will that be,
To take us sick, that sound would not take Thee !

Music: Tender Hearted – Jeanne Cotter

Alleluia: Called

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest
August 8, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called you through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican between 1508 to 1512

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we begin nearly two weeks of first readings from the prophet Ezekiel, and this first one is a real WOW!

As I looked, a stormwind came from the North,
a huge cloud with flashing fire enveloped in brightness,
from the midst of which (the midst of the fire)
something gleamed like electrum.
Within it were figures resembling four living creatures
that looked like this: their form was human.

Ezekiel 1:4-6

Walter Brueggemann calls Ezekiel “the prophet who had fantasies and hallucinations”. Nevertheless, Ezekiel is considered a prophet because like all prophets, Ezekiel “noticed what no one else noticed” — Ezekiel “saw death coming” to Israel.

Ezekiel did not blame the king, the government, the military or the war planners for this terrible death to come. He blamed the religious community, the clergy, the prophets: “My hands will be against the prophets who see delusive visions and give lying messages” (13:9). Ezekiel blamed the religious community because that community is responsible for truth-telling.

Truth-Telling and Peacemaking: A Reflection on Ezekiel
by Walter Brueggemann

I think it might be safe to say that most religious communities – and the people who comprise them – do not want to hear such things about themselves. Abraham Heschel, one of the greatest theologians and philosophers of the 20th century said this:

The prophets had disdain for those to whom God was comfort and security; to them God was a challenge, an incessant demand. He is compassion, but not a compromise; justice, but not inclemency. Tranquility is unknown to the soul of a prophet. The miseries of the world give him no rest. While others are callous, and even callous to their callousness and unaware of their insensitivity, the prophets remain examples of supreme impatience with evil, distracted by neither might nor applause, by neither success nor beauty. Their intense sensitivity to right and wrong is due to their intense sensitivity to God’s concern for right and wrong. They feel fiercely because they hear deeply.

from: What Are Prophets For?

By Abraham Joshua Heschel
MARCH 25, 2020

In today’s Gospel, Jesus informs his disciples that he too will endure a prophet’s suffering:

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

Matthew 17:22-23

As we reflect on what these readings mean for us in our lives, our Alleluia Verse offers a key phrase:

Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called you through the Gospel
To possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

…through the Gospel

Unless we know and cherish the Gospel, we Christians cannot hear our call.

Poetry: The Call of a Christian – John Greenleaf Whittier

Not always as the whirlwind's rush 
On Horeb's mount of fear, 
Not always as the burning bush 
To Midian's shepherd seer, 
Nor as the awful voice which came 
To Israel's prophet bards, 
Nor as the tongues of cloven flame, 
Nor gift of fearful words,-- 
Not always thus, with outward sign 
Of fire or voice from Heaven,
The message of a truth divine, 
The call of Godis given! 
Awaking in the human heart 
Love for the true and right,-- 
Zeal for the Christian's better part, 
Strength for the Christian's fight. 
Nor unto manhood's heart alone
The holy influence steals 
Warm with a rapture not its own, 
The heart of woman feels! 
As she who by Samaria's wall
The Saviour's errand sought,-- 
As those who with the fervent Paul 
And meek Aquila wrought: 
Or those meek ones whose martyrdom 
Rome's gathered grandeur saw 
Or those who in their Alpine home
Braved the Crusader's war, 
When the green Vaudois, trembling, heard, 
Through all its vales of death, 
The martyr's song of triumph poured 
From woman's failing breath. 
And gently, by a thousand things 
Which o'er our spirits pass, 
Like breezes o'er the harp's fine strings, 
Or vapors o'er a glass, 
Leaving their token strange and new 
Of music or of shade, 
The summons to the right and true 
And merciful is made. 
Oh, then, if gleams of truth and light
Flash o'er thy waiting mind, 
Unfolding to thy mental sight 
The wants of human-kind; 
If, brooding over human grief,
The earnest wish is known 
To soothe and gladden with relief 
An anguish not thine own; 
Though heralded with naught of fear, 
Or outward sign or show; 
Though only to the inward ear 
It whispers soft and low; 
Though dropping, as the manna fell, 
Unseen, yet from above, 
Noiseless as dew-fall, heed it well,--- 
Thy Father's call of love!

Music: God is Calling through the Whisper

Alleluia: Rise from the Dead!

Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
Friday, July 29, 2022

Today’s Readings: (for this wonderful feast, I have used the alternate readings for Martha, Mary and Lazarus)

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we enter the stories of three closest friends of Jesus – Martha, Mary and Lazarus. There were the bosom buddies of Jesus – doing salvation things with him for sure, but also laughing, remembering, supporting, challenging and, like all good friends, loving.

When I think of the home of this Bethany family, many characteristics come to mind. Foremost for me is hospitality. We must be welcomed into a place in order to find friendship there. We must be comfortable, cared about, and appreciated. We must feel at home.

We’ve all been in homes that make us feel this way, and hopefully our own home offers such hospitality to us and others. I think this morning of three old friends now at home with God. They were the sisters of a beloved pastor with whom I worked. We got to know them well at the time of his death and continued our friendship until they too died.

We often visited their old but perfectly appointed little home. And their hospitality took very evident forms: a prepared pitcher of Manhattans in the fridge, little snacks that we might have mentioned we liked, lively conversation, and the sharing of life-making stories – with a few secrets sprinkled in between.

I think that’s the same kind of hospitable home Mary, Martha, and Lazarus offered Jesus – a tasty meal, some good wine, and the sharing of life, laughter, and tears.

We may not immediately think of these things as holy — but I think they are. The way we welcome one another – visit, feed, listen, appreciate, care for and enjoy one another – these things open the door to more fully absorb God’s love. Hospitality is very definitely a ministry and a sacrament.

When we open our hearts to be the presence of God’s own welcome, we too can share the bread of life, the wine of experience, and the certainty of love with our infinitely hospitable Creator.

What immeasurable gifts! Having received them from God, may we offer them to others especially those who find them nowhere else.

May all our loving hospitality create a dwelling place for God in our hearts!

Imagine what is was like for Jesus to decide to raise this dearest friend Lazarus FROM THE DEAD!!!!

Imagine what it was like for Lazarus for the rest of his life to be the guy – “Hey? Weren’t you DEAD once????)

There may be things in our own lives that echo these feelings. Have we ever given everything for a friend or beloved when others don’t understand?

Have we come back from a place of death which, once again, no one really understands?

Talk with Jesus and Lazarus about your experiences in your prayer toady.

Poetry: The Raising of Lazarus by Franz Wright
from a fragment by Rainer Maria Rilke

But Jesus knew his friends. Before they were,
he knew them; and they knew
that he would never leave them
desolate here. So he let his exhausted eyes close
at first glimpse of the village.
And immediately he seemed
to be standing in their midst.

 Here was Martha, the dead boy’s sister.
He knew he would always find her
at his right hand, and beside her
Mary. They were all here.
Yet opening his eyes it was not so.
He was standing apart,
even the two women
slowly backing away,
as if from concern for their good name.

 Then he began to hear voices
muttering under their breath
quite distinctly; or thinking,
Lord, if you had been hereour friend might not have died. 

(At that, he seemed to reach out
to touch someone’s face
with infinite gentleness,
and silently wept.) He asked them the way
to the grave. And he followed
behind them, preparing
to do what is not done
to that green silent place
where life and death are one. 

 Merely to walk down this road
had started to feel like a test,
or a poorly prepared-for performance
with actors unsure of their lines,
or which play they were supposed to be in;
a feverish outrage rising inside him
at the glib ease with which words like “living”
and “being dead” rolled off their tongues.
And awe flooded his body
when he hoarsely cried,
“Move the stone!”

 “By now he must stink,”
somebody helpfully shouted.
(And it was true, the body
had been lying in the tomb
four days.) But he was far away,
too far away inside himself
to hear it, beginning
to fill with that gesture
which rose through him:
no hand this heavy
had ever been raised, no human hand
had ever reached this height
shining an instant in air, then
all at once clenching into itself
at the thought all the dead might return
from that tomb where
the enormous cocoon
of the corpse was beginning to stir.

In the end, though, nobody stood
there at its entrance
but the young man
who had freed his right arm
and was pulling at his face,
at small strips of grave wrappings.
Peter looked across at Jesus
with an expression that seemed to say
You did it, or What have you done? And all
saw how their vague and inaccurate
life made room for him once more.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ (Click ” Watch on YouTube” )

Let’s be a place where God, and all God’s creatures, find a dwelling place of hospitality.

Alleluia: Nets and Clay

Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 28, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jeremiah gives us the wonderful image of the potter and the clay. Through this image, Israel is called to repentance, faith and transformation.

Whenever the object of clay which the potter was making
turned out badly in his hand, 
he tried again,
making of the clay another object of whatever sort he pleased.
Then the word of the LORD came to me:
Can I not do to you, house of Israel,
as this potter has done? says the LORD.
Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter,
so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

The passage carries the warning that some of potter’s attempts don’t quite cut it. They will be culled for the  spiritual “recycle bin”. Today’s Gospel offers a similar forewarning.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.

Friends, we all want to make it into the heavenly bucket, right? So let’s sincerely pray the prayer of our Alleluia Verse:

Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our heart, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.

Poetry: The Song of the Potter – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Turn, turn, my wheel! Turn round and round,
Without a pause, without a sound:
So spins the flying world away!
This clay, well mixed with marl and sand,
Follows the motion of my hand;
For some must follow, and some command,
Though all are made of clay!

Turn, turn, my wheel! All things must change
To something new, to something strange;
Nothing that is can pause or stay;
The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
The rain to mist and cloud again,
To-morrow be to-day.

Turn, turn, my wheel! All life is brief;
What now is bud will soon be leaf,
What now is leaf will soon decay;
The wind blows east, the wind blows west;
The blue eggs in the robin’s nest
Will soon have wings and beak and breast,
And flutter and fly away.

Turn, turn, my wheel! This earthen jar
A touch can make, a touch can mar;
And shall it to the Potter say,
What makest thou? Thou hast no hand?
As men who think to understand
A world by their Creator planned,
Who wiser is than they.

Turn, turn, my wheel! ‘Tis nature’s plan
The child should grow into the man,
The man grow wrinkled, old, and gray;
In youth the heart exults and sings,
The pulses leap, the feet have wings;
In age the cricket chirps, and brings
The harvest home of day.

Turn, turn, my wheel! The human race,
Of every tongue, of every place,
Caucasian, Coptic, or Malay,
All that inhabit this great earth,
Whatever be their rank or worth,
Are kindred and allied by birth,
And made of the same clay.

Turn, turn, my wheel! What is begun
At daybreak must at dark be done,
To-morrow will be another day;
To-morrow the hot furnace flame
Will search the heart and try the frame,
And stamp with honor or with shame
These vessels made of clay.

Stop, stop, my wheel! Too soon, too soon
The noon will be the afternoon,
Too soon to-day be yesterday;
Behind us in our path we cast
The broken potsherds of the past,
And all are ground to dust at last,
And trodden into clay.

Music: The Potter’s Hand- Helen  Baylor

I know for sure, all of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan
You gently call me, into Your presence
Guiding me by, Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord
To live all of my life through Your eyes
I’m captured by, Your Holy calling
Set me apart
I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord I pray
Take me, and mold me
Use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hands
Hold me, You guide me
Lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
You gently call me, into Your presence
Guiding me by, Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord
To live all of my life through Your eyes
I’m captured by, Your Holy calling
Set me apart
I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord I pray
Take me, and mold me
Use me, fill me
I give my life to my Potter’s hands
Hold me, You guide me
Lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to my Potter’s hand
Take me, and mold me
Use me, fill me
I give my life to my Potter’s hands
Hold me, You guide me
Lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to my Potter’s hand
Give Him everything
Give Him everything
Right now, give Him everything
Give Him everything
Lord, I give it all
To You

Alleluia: Innocence!

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

Today’s Readings:

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”?

Alleluia: Seedlings

Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 20, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Alleluia, alleluia.
The seed is the word of God,
Christ is the sower;
all who come to him will live for ever.

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our first reading recounts Jeremiah’s call. Oh, and it has a sovereign ring to it, doesn’t it! You can almost hear trumpets accompanying the words:

The word of the LORD came to me thus:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

Jeremiah 1: 2-3

Long before Jeremiah knew, the Word had been instilled in him. At the appointed time, God called for that Word to bear fruit.

At our creation, God breathed the Divine Word into our hearts too. Jesus says it was like a farmer planting seed. And our humble, patient Creator waits to see if we turn out to be rich soil.

A sower went out to sow.
… some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.

Some fell on rocky ground, 
…. the sun rose it was scorched,

Some seed fell among thorns
which choked it.

But some seed fell on rich soil, 
and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.
(from Matthew 13: 1-9)

When Jeremiah heard about the Word in his heart, he didn’t immediately have “ears to hear”. At first, he resisted:

“Ah, Lord GOD!” I said,
“I know not how to speak;
I am too young.”


Every day, God continues to call forth the fruitful Word from us. Sometimes we resist. Our lives can be a little rocky, thorny, or we might just be off the path a bit.

We also might make excuses to ignore the call of grace:

  • too young
  • too old
  • too tired
  • too busy
  • too afraid
  • too weak

We might just too … too… too ourselves into spiritual quicksand!

Our beautiful psalm tells what to say instead of our “too”s:

For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 71: 5-6; 15,17

Poetry: Two poems today – one from Wendell Berry and one from me. His is way better. 🙂

The Wild Geese – Wendell Berry

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer's end.  In time's maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves.  We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed's marrow.

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes.  Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here.  And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear.  What we need is here.

If You Are Mother – Renee Yann, RSM

If you are Mother, God
don’t let us hurt ourselves;
keep freedom in us
as freedom,
not as willfulness,
so that we grow
even if we must grow down
like a dark, hidden root.

if life dies in us,
You change.  We are not
isolated seedlings
you left somewhere
in lonely hope one spring.
You are the ground, and the
growth, and the growth’s nourishment.
When we green, it is You
who thrive.

Music: Listen and blossom, dears❤️

Alleluia: Wonderful Signs

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 19, 2022

Today’s Readings

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse reiterates that the love of God is a mutual exchange. God loves us first. But God blossoms in us to the degree that we respond to God’s Word.

Alleluia, alleluia.
If you love me
you will keep my Word,
and my Father will love you
and we will come to you.

Our first reading demonstrates, with beautiful images, the longing of Micah’s community for this kind of relationship:

Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.

Micah 7:14-15

Show us wonderful signs! 

Micah 7:15

It’s a prayer that we can all say at times in our lives. We long to see where and how God is present in our sometimes chaotic world. We want God to wave a sacred wand over our pain, confusion, loss, anger, loneliness and a thousand other burdens. Perhaps we want God to say, “Look! It’s only Me hiding in the corners of your life!”

Our Alleluia Verse says that if we live in God’s Word those signs of Presence will become apparent to us. 

They are there – woven through our everyday experiences. It is our alignment to the Word, nurtured by prayer and good works, that will reveal them to us.

Prose: Thich Nhat Hanh, from “The Sun My Heart”

There is no phenomenon in the universe 
that does not intimately concern us, 
from a pebble resting at the bottom of the ocean, 
to the movement of a galaxy millions of light years away.

Music: Diamonds in Rain – Michael Hoppè

Hoppè dedicated this piece of music to the poet Edward Thomas who, like all good poets, could see diamonds hidden in the rain – signs of wonder and grace. One of ET’s poems in below for your enjoyment.

Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.

Stealthily the dark haunts round
And, when the lamp goes, without sound
At a swifter bound
Than the swiftest hound,
Arrives, and all else is drowned;

And star and I and wind and deer,
Are in the dark together,—near,
Yet far,—and fear
Drums on my ear
In that sage company drear.

How weak and little is the light,
All the universe of sight,
Love and delight,
Before the might,
If you love it not, of night.

Alleluia: Righteousness

Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
July 11, 2022

Today’s Readings

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse repeats one of the treasured yet challenging Beatitudes:

Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are they who are persecuted
for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Sometimes, the word “righteous” can fall harshly on the mind. Over the years, it has acquired a tinge of Bible-banging fundamentalism. Even in secular culture, a “self-righteous” person is repellent.

But the “righteousness” which is our heritage from both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures is a caring and dynamic discernment born of Wisdom and Mercy. It is a virtue the disciple seeks in imitation of the Beloved.

From Walter Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament:

Israel’s characteristic grammar in speaking of Yahweh, governed by active verbs, regularly insisted that Yahweh is a major player in Israel’s life and in the life of the world. Yahweh’s characteristic presentation in Israel’s rhetoric is that Yahweh acts powerfully, decisively, and transformatively. Yahweh is morally serious and demanding, so that Yahweh is endlessly attentive to distinctions of good and evil, justice and injustice. Indeed, it is palpable power and moral seriousness that distinguish Yahweh from all rival gods, who have no power to act decisively and no capacity for moral distinctions.

In our first reading, we meet this righteous God who is fed up with the people’s dissembling.

When you come in to visit me,
who asks these things of you?
Trample my courts no more!
Bring no more worthless offerings;
your incense is loathsome to me.

Isaiah 1: 12-13

Instead, Isaiah’s God states clearly what makes one righteous:

Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.

Isaiah 1: 16-17

Jesus tells us that it’s not easy to be such a person. You’re going to suffer for your acts of justice and mercy because we live in a world that honors vengeance and oppression instead. You’re going to be insulted, mocked and ostracized for your righteousness – for your desire to “right-balance” life for all human beings.

Brueggemann tells us that, nevertheless, this is our call:

The purpose of human life, a life of vocation, fellowship, and witness is to attest the truth of God’s solidarity with is, that is in justice, righteousness, compassion, steadfast love, and faithfulness.

Poetry: A Psalm of Life – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Anyone with a little interest in English poetry, must have had this poem etched into memory; hence no guesses about Longfellow’s best poem. Such is its evocative eloquence, such is its superior effect on every person regardless of class, religion and nationality that it transcends the boundaries of a mere song, and in the right sense, transforms into a psalm – a path to be followed for glorified and righteous life. Recited at Senate meetings, public gatherings and even at churches, this poem is sometimes speculated to have inspired Longfellow after he had come across a board in a German graveyard. Certainly his greatest, ‘Psalm of Life’ seems to have varied ideas where each quatrain is a guideline in itself. (from classical

A Psalm of Life – (1839)
What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Music: I just had to offer a beautiful song from the Righteous Brothers on this “righteous” day. 🙂

I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows
I believe for everyone who goes astray
Someone will come
To show the way
I believe, I believe

I believe above a storm the smallest prayer
Can still be heard
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word

Every time I hear a new born baby cry
Or touch a leaf or see the sky
Then I know why, I believe

Alleluia: Heaven’s at Hand

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 6, 2022

Today’s Readings

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our first reading and Responsorial Psalm encourage us to seek God. 

Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the fruit of piety;
break up for yourselves a new field,
for it is time to seek the LORD …

And our Gospel proclaims that we have already found God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus sent out these Twelve
after instructing them thus,
…. “As you go, make this proclamation:
‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

The word “seek” is one we don’t use frequently, except to describe games that hide things from us – “Seek and Find”, “Hide and Seek”. In these games, someone is trying to fool us or outwit us.

But God is not trying to hide from us. Our scriptures are about a whole different kind of seeking. We might think of it like this:

Have you ever opened a kitchen drawer looking for a particular utensil but been unable to find it? You might exclaim aloud, “Where’s that darn corkscrew???!!!”, just as your sister leans in and picks it out of the drawer for you.

It was right there in front of you all the time. You just couldn’t see it — couldn’t put your hand on it.

Jesus tells us it is like that with the Kingdom of Heaven. We may be seeking it with all our effort while all the while it is right at hand. We sometimes fail to see the “touchable grace” in our lives because we throw a camouflage of unawareness or ingratitude over it.

Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.

The poet Mary Oliver offers the antidote to that kind of blindness:

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver

Today, let’s pay attention to the wonder of our lives. Let’s seek God’s face in our ordinary circumstances. God is not hiding – we just have to look with the insightful eyes of faith, love, and hope.

Poetry: Rumi

Your task is not 
to seek for love, 
but merely 
to seek and find 
all the barriers 
within yourself 
that you have built 
against it. 

Music: Seek God’s Face – Jules Riding

Alleluia: Hear; Know; Follow

Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 2, 2022

Today’s Readings

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse paints the dynamic picture of Christ’s relationship with those who follow him. With due respect to the ancient “shepherd” image, the verse might speak to us better like this:

Alleluia, alleluia.
My beloved hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

In our readings today, we see the cycle of grace and resistance worked out in the lives of the ancients. Our passage from Amos talks about the full restoration of Israel to a place in God’s favor. Our Gospel shows that those with closed hearts cannot receive the lavish mercy of God given to us in the gift of Jesus.

What about us? Can we open ourselves to that powerful grace? Can we respond in reciprocity to this Divine invitation:

I am the Beloved. 
And my own beloved hear Me.
I know them.
And they follow me.

Poetry: TO LIVE WITH THE SPIRIT – Jessica Powers

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.
It is to keep the vigil of mystery,
earthless and still.
One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit,
strange as the wind’s will.

The soul that walks where the wind of the Spirit blows
turns like a wandering weather-vane toward love.
It may lament like Job or Jeremiah,
echo the wounded hart, the mateless dove.
It may rejoice in spaciousness of meadow
that emulates the freedom of the sky.

Always it walks in waylessness, unknowing;
it has cast down forever from its hand
the compass of the whither and the why.

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover.
It is becoming love, and like to Him
toward Whom we strain with metaphors of creatures:
fire-sweep and water-rush and the wind’s whim.
The soul is all activity, all silence;
and though it surges Godward to its goal,
it holds, as moving earth holds sleeping noonday,
the peace that is the listening of the soul.

Music: Path of Joy – Daniel Kobialka