Alleluia: Grafted to God

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
June 30, 2022

Today’s readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/063022.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we move from Amos’s angry God to the gentle Jesus of our Gospel who gently lifts a broken man out of both his paralysis and sin.

These readings offer quite a leap as we try to image our invisible God! And, once again, our Alleluia Verse is the bridge that helps us do so.

The verse assures us that, in all circumstances, God in restoring us to a share in Divine Life.

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

2 Corinthians 5:19


The image that comes to my mind is that of an expert gardener grafting a broken shoot on to a vibrant tree.

That “grafting” occurs within the context of our life stories. In Amos’s time, it was a story fraught with political struggles crippling the community’s moral life. The crowd gathered around Jesus are challenged by the crippling effects of their lack of faith. His cure of the paralytic demonstrates how God wishes to restore their spiritual freedom.

God continues to reconcile the world in Christ
even in our own time.
How am I a recipient
and how am I an agent
of that merciful, conciliatory grace? 

Praying with the elements of Responsorial Psalm 19 today suggests a guide for us. When our lives are reconciled with God, we should experience these gifts:

  • truth
  • justice
  • wholeness
  • refreshment
  • trustworthiness
  • wisdom
  • simplicity
  • right balance
  • joy
  • clarity
  • enlightenment
  • purity
  • steadfastness
  • and spiritual sweetness

Poetry: from Rumi

Find the sweetness 
in your own heart, 
then you may find the sweetness 
in every heart.

Music: Sweet Will of God – by Lelia Naylor Morris (1862 – 1929) an American Methodist hymn writer. In the 1890s, she began to write hymns and gospel songs; it has been said that she wrote more than 1,000 songs and tunes, and that she did so while doing her housework. In 1913, her eyesight began to fail; her son thereupon constructed for her a blackboard 28 feet (8.5 m) long with oversized staff lines, so that she could continue to compose.

In 1900, she published Sweet Will of God, about  the true “sweetness” of a deep spiritual life.

Two versions today. The first is the entire hymn sung by Amy Grant. The second is just the interlude so beautifully sung by Junior W. Smith that I had to share it. (Lyrics below)


Amy Grant

Junior W. Smith

My stubborn will at last hath yielded;
I would be Thine, and Thine alone;
And this the prayer my lips are bringing,
“Lord, let in me Thy will be done.”

Sweet will of God, still fold me closer;
Till I am wholly lost in Thee;
Sweet will of God, still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul, a prisoned bird, set free.

Shut in with Thee, O Lord, forever,
My wayward feet no more to roam;
What power from Thee my soul can sever?
The centre of God’s will my home.

Alleluia: Just Shine

Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
June 10, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse gives us a powerful encouragement– “Shine”. That’s it – just shine because the Word of God has charged you with Light and Life.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life. ( Phil. 2:15-16)

As our verse so clearly indicates, the more we absorb the beauty of the scriptures into our hearts, the more we shine.

And it’s not just about reading the Bible. It’s about sitting down with the Word just like we would with an old and dear friend. It’s listening, not only to what is said, but the immensity that is unsaid or whispered – both by the scriptures and by our own self-examination.

It is taking what our heart hears and letting it change or deepen our lives. It is letting go of so much that doesn’t matter in order to hold on the the Word that does matter.

It is becoming a sanctuary where others see that Word shining and are strengthened.

May we shine with a Holy Light that draws others to God’s Brilliant Love.

Poetry: I found this little poem on the internet, author unknown. I think it works for today’s meditation.

You don’t have to tell how you live each day;
You don’t have to tell if you work or play;
A tried and true barometer stands in its place—
You don’t have to tell, it will shine in your face. …
If you live close to God and God’s infinite grace—
You won’t have to tell, it will shine in your face.

Music: Walk in the Beautiful Light

I think this video is amazing. The hymn is being sung by a German speaking choir!

(Lyrics below — I especially like those “dewdrops of mercy”)

Walk in the light, beautiful light,
come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Oh shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world;

Oh we shall walk in the light, beautiful light,
come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Oh shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world;

No need to worry, no need to fret,
all of my needs, the man named Jesus has met.
His love protects me from hurt and from harm,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world.

If the gospel be hid, it’s hid from the lost,
my Jesus is waiting to look past your faults.
Arise and shine, your light has come,
Jesus is, I know that He is the only light of this world.

Jesus is the light,
light of the world.

Jesus is the light,
light of the world.

Jesus is the light,
light of the world.

He’s ever shining in my soul.

Lent: Redemptive Suffering

April 8, 2022
Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we inch closer to Holy Week, we meet both a very troubled Jeremiah and Jesus.

V0034343 The prophet Jeremiah wailing alone on a hill. Engraving.
The Prophet Jeremiah Weeping Alone on a Hill (from the Wellcome Trust)

Jeremiah, the Old Testament mirror of Jesus’s sufferings, bewails the treachery even of his friends:

I hear the whisperings of many:
“Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!”
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

Jeremiah 20:10

That’s really raw, because you can get through almost anything in the company of true friends.


Jesus weeps
Jesus Weeping Over Jerusalem by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858)

Jesus came as a Friend and hoped to find Friends of God by his ministry. And he did find many. But not all.

It takes some work to be a true friend of Jesus. Some didn’t have the courage, or generosity, or passion, or hopeful imagination to reach past their self-protective boundaries – to step into eternal life even as they walked the time-bound earth.


In today’s Gospel this band of resisters project their fears and doubts to the crowds around them. The evil sparks inflame the ready tinder of human selfishness. The mob turns on Jesus, spiritual misers scoffing at the generous challenge to believe.

Jesus pleads with them to realize what they are doing:

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

John 10:37-38

But Jesus and Jeremiah, though troubled, are grounded in God. Our Responsorial Psalm captures what might have been their silent prayer:

Psalm18 distress

Poetry: The following transliteration of Psalm 18, composed by Christine Robinson, might help us to be with Jesus in his moment, and in our own moments of fear, anxiety, or doubt.

I open my heart to you, O God
for you are my strength, my fortress,
the rock on whom I build my life.

I have been lost in my fears and my angers
caught up in falseness, fearful, and furious
I cried to you in my anguish.
You have brought me to an open space.
You saved me because you took delight in me.
I try to be good, to be just, to be generous
to walk in your ways.
I fail, but you are my lamp.
You make my darkness bright
With your help, I continue to scale the walls
and break down the barriers that fragment me.
I would be whole, and happy, and wise
and know your love
Always.


Music: Overcome – Psalm 18 by James Block

Lent: Forgive As Forgiven

March 22, 2022
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we meet Azariah of Fiery Furnace – a great champion of faith ready to bolster ours in our own uncertain times.

In our reading from the Book of Daniel, Azariah (later Abednego) prays a moving prayer of urgency, repentance, supplication, and trust:

And now we follow you with our whole heart,
we hold you in awe and we pray to you.
Do not let us be put to shame,
but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.
Deliver us by your wonders,
and bring glory to your name, O Lord.

This prayer rang very true for me today, as I prayed for God’s mercy and miracles all over our suffering earth, especially in Ukraine.


And then we move to our Gospel, which brings before us the always thorny issue of forgiveness. Forgiveness is easy when it is something we seek for ourselves. Yes, we may have done something wrong. But we see the issue from inside our own heart. We know we didn’t mean it, made a mistake, or didn’t fully understand the harm we caused. We know we deserve forgiveness.

But what about the other guys — the ones who hurt us or someone we love? They meant it, didn’t they!!!! Their treachery was no mistake. They understood all along the harm they would cause! How could we ever forgive them?

Isn’t that the way the tapes sometimes run in our heads when we are hurt by another, or when we witness such hurt?

In our Gospel, Jesus offers us the character of the forgiving master who represents our Creator. The parable teaches that God accepts and heals our weakness – God forgives. But once forgiven, we are called to be like God – forgiving others and desiring their healing.

Does this mean we ignore or forget the pain forced on others or ourselves? I don’t think so. It means that we use it as a catalyst to remember how in need of grace we and all our sisters and brothers are as we learn to live in love.


Poetry: As we pray with such awareness, how appropriate today’s psalm-poem is:

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
            teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
            for you are God my savior.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
            and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
            because of your goodness, O LORD.
Good and upright is the LORD;
            thus showing sinners the way.
God guides the humble to justice,
            and teaches the humble God’s way.

Psalm 25:4-9

Music: Forgiveness – Matthew West

Lent: Stretching toward God

March 5, 2022
Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah continues his advice begun in yesterday’s reading. When he finishes the list of things we should and should not do, Isaiah tells us how God will respond:

Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
God will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up ~

Isaiah 58: 8-12

Oh, who can resist these glorious Isaiahan lines. It’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it? To imagine it offers us great encouragement as we limp out of winter toward a spring horizon.


Each of our readings today carries a sense of shaking off old and lifeless ways to stretch toward a new promise.

The psalmist asks for God’s help in that stretching.

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Psalm 86:11

As I thought about “stretching” in prayer this morning, an image came to me of an experience some of you might share. After my knee replacement, I had to learn to streeeeetch my old ligaments around the new implant. It wasn’t exactly “hell” to do so, but it was at least the edge of purgatory! My perseverance paid off though when I began to walk freely and painlessly.



Stretching into the depths of God also takes a full measure of willpower and HOPE. We can hear these pleas in the rest of Psalm 86:

Incline your ear, O LORD; answer me,
for I am afflicted and poor.
Keep my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God.

Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.



They say that rehabbing from knee replacement surgery is a lot easier if you have exercised and kept in fair shape beforehand. In our Gospel, dear Matthew does a total , full-hearted stretch — one that he must have been preparing for all his life. Otherwise, how could he have been so immediately responsive to Christ’s unexpected invitation?

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.

Luke 5:27

Visualizing this scene, we can almost see Matthew not only get up — but his spirit actually jump up at the amazing invitation of God!


Lent is a time for us to do some jumping into grace — so many invitations come to us in this season’s beautiful scriptures and rituals. So many inspirations to grow come to us in our changing seasons! Let’s not be so distracted by our daily un-importances that we miss the call to streeeetch!


Poetry: St. Matthew by John Keble – this is a section of the poem which reflects on today’s Gospel passage.Matthew is the “meek publican” of the second stanza below. Amid all the clamor of the world around him, Keble’s Matthew has a clear eye and heart for Christ.
John Keble, (1792 – 1866) was an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Keble College, Oxford, was named after him.

There are in this loud stunning tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th' everlasting chime;
Who carry music in their heart
Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,
Plying their daily task with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.
How sweet to them, in such brief rest
As thronging cares afford,
In thought to wander, fancy-blest,
To where their gracious Lord,
In vain, to win proud Pharisees,
Spake, and was heard by fell disease-
But not in vain, beside yon breezy lake,
Bade the meek Publican his gainful seat forsake:
At once he rose, and left his gold;
His treasure and his heart
Transferred, where he shall safe behold
Earth and her idols part;
While he beside his endless store
Shall sit, and floods unceasing pour
Of Christ's true riches o'er all time and space,
First angel of His Church, first steward of His Grace.
Nor can ye not delight to think
Where He vouchsafed to eat,
How the Most Holy did not shrink
From touch of sinner's meat;
What worldly hearts and hearts impure
Went with Him through the rich man's door,
That we might learn of Him lost souls to love,
And view His least and worst with hope to meet above.
These gracious lines shed Gospel light
On Mammon's gloomiest cells,
As on some city's cheerless night
The tide of sunrise swells,
Till tower, and dome, and bridge-way proud
Are mantled with a golden cloud,
And to wise hearts this certain hope us given;
“No mist that man may raise, shall hide the eye of Heaven.”
And oh! if e'en on Babel shine
Such gleams of Paradise,
Should not their peace be peace divine,
Who day by day arise
To look on clearer heavens, and scan
The work of God untouch'd by man?
Shame on us, who about us Babel bear,
And live in Paradise, as if God was not there!

Music: Stretch Out – Gospel/Soul song by the Institutional Radio Choir

The Institutional Radio Choir was a gospel choir that recorded between 1962-2003. The choir began in 1954 at the Institutional COGIC in Brooklyn, NY, under Bishop Carl E Williams Sr. After recording an album entitled: “Well Done,” the choir backed up Shirley Caesar on her two albums, I’ll Go and My Testimony. Caesar allotted the choir’s director two songs on the album, one of which was entitled (When Trouble Comes) Stretch Out. The song went on to become a gospel standard, especially in Pentecostal circles. The choir went on to record over 20 albums, most of which charted in the Top 10 on the Gospel Billboard charts.

When troubles come and storms begin to rise
Hold on and learn to stretch out
Oh keep on fasting, keep on praying
Hold on and learn to stretch out

When Satan get on your track
And tries to turn me back
I won’t worry, i won’t fret. i just stretch out
Stretch out, oh stretch out

When days are dark and cloudy are my skies
I hold on and learn to stretch out
Oh keep on fasting, keep on believing
Hold on and learn to stretch out

Cause the race isn’t given to the swift
Neither is it given to the strong
But to him that endureth to the end
Stretch out, oh stretch out

When troubles come and storms begin to rise
Hold on and learn to stretch out
Oh keep on fasting keep on believing
Hold on and learn to stretch out

Cause the race isn’t given to the swift
Neither is it given to the strong
But to him that endureth to the end
Stretch out, oh stretch out

When i am lost, when i am sad
Jesus is there, he’ll make me glad
The Lord won’t deceive you
The Lord he won’t leave you

Stretch out

Stretch out
Stretch out
Stretch out on his word

Stretch out
Stretch out
Stretch out
Oh, stretch out

Stretch out!

Failure and Forgiveness

January 29, 2022
Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings call us to consider and to cherish our relationship with our merciful God.

In our first reading, God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David with the enormity of his sin. With the parable of the ravaged little lamb, Nathan captures all the horrific implications of David’s blind selfishness.

Nathan Denounces David’s Sin
William Brassey Hole

David listens and agrees with the condemnation, still blind that the story is about him! Nathan then unleashes the zinger, “You are the man!


But here is the key point of the passage. When David realizes his culpability, he does not retreat into his shame (as, for example, Judas does many years hence.) David acknowledges his fault and asks to be restored to relationship with the God Who has loved him so much.

David focuses on God not himself.  He does not wallow in self-recrimination or excuses. David looks to God’s Mercy not into the mirror of self-justification:

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the LORD has removed your sin. You shall not die…

2 Samuel 12:13
It all transpires in this one verse. That simple, definitive change wrought by divine forgiveness constitutes the structure of Psalm 51 as well as the 2 Samuel narrative. It is the same structure in Christian liturgy as well. In psalm, narrative, and liturgy, it is a move from failure to restoration, a move from confession to assurance, even if the assurance is only implied in Psalm 51. The exchange is between human failure and divine assurance, made possible by human honesty and a divine readiness to begin again in mercy, steadfast love, and compassion.
Walter Brueggemann - From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

For prayer today, a deep reflection on Psalm 51 may bring us light and healing, for our own spirits and for the spirit of the world we share.


Poetry: Psalm 51 – A New Heart – Christine Robinson

Have mercy on me, O God,
   For I’ve messed up again
Sinned against You in thought, word and deed,
   and in what I have left undone.
Been--all too human.

Can you make me a new heart, O God?
   and a right spirit? Can you break my willful plundering
   of all that is Yours? 
If I got it together again, others would follow—
I could teach, guide, help—and I would!

O Lord, open my lips,
  that I may praise you.
I know you don’t want ritual sacrifice
   were I to give a burnt offering you’d be exasperated.
What you want is that new heart and right spirit. 
   For this, I pray.

Music: Miserere Mei (Have Mercy on Me, O God) – Gregorio Allegri 

David, the King

January 24, 2022
Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings place us at watershed moments in the lives of David and Jesus.

All the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said:
“Here we are, your bone and your flesh.
In days past, when Saul was our king, 
it was you who led the children of Israel out and brought them back.
And the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd my people Israel 
and shall be commander of Israel.’”
When all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, 
King David made an agreement with them there before the LORD, 
and they anointed him king of Israel.

2 Samuel 5:1-4

In 2 Samuel 5, David fully assumes the kingship through the approbation of the community. The scene marks the culmination of his rise to power and “the beginning of the rest of his life”.

Through our readings in Samuel until now, we have ascended with David to the pinnacle of his life. We are about to begin weeks of moving down “the other side of the mountain”.


Scholars generally see the David narrative in two primary units, the Rise of David (I Sam. 16:1—II Sam. 5:10) and the Succession Narrative (II Sam. 9:1—20:26; I Kings 1:1—2:46). Chapters 5:11—8:18, fall between two larger units. Whereas the first presents David in his ascendancy, the second presents David in his demise and expresses pathos and ambiguity. Our chapters thus come after the raw vitality of the rise of David and before the terrible pathos of the succession narrative. They show the painful process whereby this beloved chieftain is transformed into a hardened monarch, who now has more power than popular affection.

Walter Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel

In our Gospel, Jesus also comes to a sort of “continental divide”. But rather than community approbation, Jesus encounters the condemnation of the scribes who have come from Jerusalem to assess him.

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Mark 3:22

From this moment in his life, Jesus too launches into his “kingship”, one that looks very different from David’s. The ensuing chapters of Samuel will reveal how David struggles and succumbs to the temptations of power and domination. The Gospels, on the other hand, describe Jesus’s “kingdom” as one of humility, mercy, and love for those who are poor and suffering.

Only through faith can we understand the inverse power of God present in the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and in our own lives. Jesus, the “new David”, is anointed in the Spirit to reveal and incorporate us into the kingdom of God.


Prose: from Immanuel Jakobovits who was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1967 to 1991.

To those without faith
there are no answers.
To those with faith, 
there are no questions.

Music: King David, music by Herbert Howells, sung by Sarah Connolly from a poem by Walter de la Mare

King David – Walter de la Mare

King David was a sorrowful man:
    No cause for his sorrow had he;
    And he called for the music of a hundred harps,
    To ease his melancholy.

    They played till they all fell silent:
    Played-and play sweet did they;
    But the sorrow that haunted the heart of King David
    They could not charm away.

    He rose; and in his garden
    Walked by the moon alone,
    A nightingale hidden in a cypress-tree
    Jargoned on and on.

    King David lifted his sad eyes
    Into the dark-boughed tree-
    ''Tell me, thou little bird that singest,
    Who taught my grief to thee?'

    But the bird in no wise heeded
    And the king in the cool of the moon
    Hearkened to the nightingale's sorrowfulness,
    Till all his own was gone.

Let God…

January 18, 2022
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, three themes suggest themselves for our prayerful consideration. At various points in our spiritual lives we are called to:

Release what binds us
Reorient to what is good
Recommit to hope and promise

Our first reading begins the narrative of David, key figure of the Hebrew Scriptures and the archetype king who prefigured the Messiah.

Release
We read about Samuel’s commission to find a new kingly candidate and to anoint him. This is a big deal for Samuel, who first has to release his dream for Saul in whom he had misplaced his hope:

The LORD said to Samuel:
“How long will you grieve for Saul,whom I have rejected as king of Israel?


Reorient
God, Who already has a plan, encourages Samuel to pursue a new path:

Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.


Recommit
In a memorable series of attempts, Samuel tries to figure out who it is that God has set the kingly choice upon. After seven “not him”s, David appears – the unlikeliest of all the sons:

Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed him in the midst of his brothers;
and from that day on, the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. 
When Samuel took his leave, he went to Ramah.


Throughout this entire process, God is at the wheel. Samuel’s job — and Jesse’s, and David’s, and the unchosen brothers— is to listen, hear, and respond even to the unlikely and improbable.

Believe it or not, he will be King!

The lesson, perhaps, for us: God is at the wheel in our lives too. Of course, we will have failures. Often, we will miss the “holy point”. But God is always with us, reiterating faith’s promise and inspiring a new path to its fulfillment.


Poetry: Let God – Meister Eckhart

Let God work in you,
give the work to God,
and have peace.
Don’t worry if God works
through your nature
or above your nature,
because both are God’s,
nature and grace.

Music: Meditation – Yuhki Kuramoto

Blossoming Exultation!

January 11, 2022
Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Ordinary Time 2022:
The extraordinary reality is that we have been given the gift of life!
Each day we are given a new portion of grace to deepen in God!
Let us focus our reflections on the “hidden extraordinary”
– a word, thought, or challenge in each day’s readings
that we might otherwise have taken for granted.
May God give us the graceful appreciation to unwrap these gifts!


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we awaken to extraordinary gifts revealed in three words from our readings:

Downcast – Amazed – Exultant

In our first reading, Hannah’s story continues to unfold. And we feel for her, don’t we? The woman is desperate to bear life! Not only does she long for her own sweet child; she longs as well for restored standing in her neighborhood and family as one who is fertile not barren. This meant everything in Hannah’s community as fertility defined a woman’s importance.

Have you ever prayed like Hannah prays in this chapter? Has any need in your life ever so demanded God’s mercy? These are times that ask for our complete vulnerability before God’s Omnipotence.

In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously,
and she made a vow, promising: “O LORD of hosts,
if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid,
if you remember me and do not forget me,
if you give your handmaid a male child,
I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives…

1 Samuel 1: 10-11
Vasili Petrovich Vereshchagin (1864)

Eli witnesses Hannah’s vulnerable prayer. He blesses her and hope cracks through her gloom:
She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left.
She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband,
and no longer appeared downcast.

1 Samuel 1:18

Extraordinary Vulnerability!


Jesus Casts Out Demons – Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is still very early in his ministry. He has come to the synagogue to teach and people are “astonished” to hear the depth of his authority. But their astonishment grows even more when Jesus successfully commands the unclean spirit to leave the tortured man.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”

Mark 1:27

Can we let ourselves be constantly amazed at God’s Presence, Power, and Mercy in all Creation?


Extraordinary Holy Amazement!


Once again, our Responsorial Psalm offes a way to pray when our downcast desperation meets God’s amazing, transforming grace. It is the “Magnificat” of Hannah:

And Hannah prayed:

“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted by my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in your victory.
There is no Holy One like the LORD;
there is no Rock like our God.
1 Samuel 2: 1-2

1 Samual 2: 1-2

Extraordinary Exultation!

Through our scripture-nourished prayer,
may we open the gifts of extraordinary vulnerability, extraordinary hope, and extraordinary exultation
wrapped in our own ordinary lives this day.

Poetry: Bare Tree – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Already I have shed the leaves of youth,
stripped by the wind of time down to the truth
of winter branches. Linear and alone
I stand, a lens for lives beyond my own,
a frame through which another's fire may glow,
a harp on which another's passion, blow.
The pattern of my boughs, an open chart
spread on the sky, to others may impart
its leafless mysteries that I once prized,
before bare roots and branches equalized,
tendrils that tap the rain or twigs the sun
are all the same, shadow and substance one.
Now that my vulnerable leaves are cast aside,
there's nothing left to shield, nothing to hide.
Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
so fragile and so fearless have I grown!


Music: Listen to the Trees

Rain Down, Lord!

December 15, 2021
Wednesday of the Third Week in Advent

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

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

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

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


Poetry: I Rain by Hafiz

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

I rain
Because your meadows call
For God.

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

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

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

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

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

A divinely wild soul
transformed to infinite generosity

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

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

Music: Waiting for the Rain – Kathryn Kaye