Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 92, the only psalm in the Hebrew Bible assigned to a particular day – Shabbat. Combined with our readings, especially Ezekiel, it invites us to heartfelt prayer.

Shabbat (שַׁבָּת; related to Hebrew verb “cease, rest”) is the seventh day of the Jewish week and is the day of rest and abstention from work as commanded by God. Shabbat involves two interrelated commandments: to remember (zachor) and to observe (shamor).

from jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Psalm 92 captures the spirit we hope for in all our Sundays- peace, reflective gratitude, patient hope, recognized blessing. It is a time to remember God’s goodness to us and to reflect on God’s presence.


But, as you may know, I write these reflections a day ahead. And my Saturday morning was anything but “Shabbatish”! I stayed up too late last night, slept too late this morning, and had to handle an early grocery order. To top it all off, a glass exploded in my housemate’s face as she emptied the dishwasher! (She’s fine, but it was like lightening hit our kitchen.)

It all left me a little distracted!


I tell you this to say that – yes – prayer comes begrudgingly when we don’t make the space for it.

But when we do take a breath and quiet ourselves, it can be amazingly generous.

Over time, the seeds of a consistently prayerful life will bear fruit even under challenging conditions. As Jesus tells us today:

It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.


Our #92 psalmist prays that kind of a prayer today. Here’s the way I read it with my heart:

It is good to give thanks to you LORD,
    to sing praise to your name, Beloved,
To proclaim your kindness at daybreak,
and even later if I miss its rising!
    To know your faithfulness
even in my distractions.

You let my prayer bear fruit 
even in the shade of time and its pressures,
    my faith to be vigorous and sturdy.
I sing of your goodness,LORD,
    You, my Steady Love who is always faithful.


Poetry: The Spirit’s Whispers by Colten Biro, S.J.

If only my words were 
poised, precise, perfect ballerinas.
If only they could pirouette on a point,

Holding a pose, arresting rapt attention,
Meaning twirling out past paradox of The Ineffable,
convincing the very orbit of the Son to stop and listen,
to nothing more significant—than me.

If only my words were quick, sharp, exact,
halting in the air for emphasis and recognition.
All of which calm, careful, and controlled.
All of which holding the attention of the Heavens,
interrupting an unceasing song of seraphim and cherubim.

If only my words were anything, 
but garbled, goofy, grating,
and less akin to rodeo clowns than en pointe figurines.
But they are bumbling and boisterous, 
dancing dunces, 
threading a thin, thimble-like thought
that the gait of my racing heart
could avoid running into either 
lines of bull—or truth too true.
Which means my words, in effect, 
avoid bearing my very heart, directly to You.

If only the words, with a gentle extension
and a faint flourish, could entwine:
        my desires—Your Will. 
        my loneliness—Your Presence.
        my pain—the Resurrection.
      my disquiet—Your Peace.

Completing a grand jete,
coupling cacophonous 
concepts midair—and mid-heart.

And yet, 
my words
don’t dance
or sing
at all.

So, I don’t speak.
My words don’t waltz, so much as whimper.
And my seat here in the pew feels too quiet
in the muffled silence of the sanctuary.

Maybe, Lord, You have the words 
I can perfectly perform,
to cry anything but Abba.
Which for now,
is the only word I pray,
while paralyzed in the repeating echoes
of my pointless pirouetting.


Music: Vento di Passioni – James Horner

As we pray today, may a flight of prayerful gratitude spring from our spirits!

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103, a well-known and loved hymn of praise. It is a fitting psalm for today’s feast which unites us with Mary as we pray.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all the benefits of the Lord.

Psalm 103:1

Mary lived much of her life in the actual presence of God, in the person of Jesus her Son. And no doubt, she received this holy proximity as a surpassing gift.

But even more importantly, Mary lived her whole life in total awareness of God – before and after Jesus was present with her.


There is a practice many of us learned as children called “Blessing the Hour”. The prayer goes like this:

Let us remember the holy presence of God
Let us adore God’s Divine Majesty.

Sometimes a classmate was assigned to watch the clock and ring a little bell to trigger our prayer. We needed a reminder, every hour, that our whole life is held in the Breath of God.


But Mary always remembered. She lived so completely within God’s promise of mercy that she became the vessel of its accomplishment.

My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, 
and my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior. 
For you have looked with favor upon your lowly servant, 
and from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.
For you, the Almighty, have done great things for me, 
and holy is your Name.
 
Your mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear you.
You have shown strength with your arm; 
you have scattered the proud in their conceit; 
you have deposed the mighty from their thrones 
and raised the lowly to high places.
You have filled the hungry with good things, 
while you have sent the rich away empty.
 
You have come to the aid of Israel your servant, 
mindful of your mercy
—the promise you made to our ancestors―
to Sarah and Abraham and their decendants forever.

So today, like Mary, let us remember the holy Presence of God in our every moment –

  • the Lord who is kind and merciful.
  • and pardons all our iniquities,
  • and heals all our ills
  • and redeems our life from destruction,
  • and crowns us with kindness and compassion

Psalm 103:2-3,8


Poetry: John O’Donohue, ‘The Annunciation’, in Conamara Blues

Cast from afar before the stones were born
And rain had rinsed the darkness for colour,
The words have waited for the hunger in her
To become the silence where they could form.
The day’s last light frames her by the window,
A young woman with distance in her gaze,
She could never imagine the surprise
That is hovering over her life now.
The sentence awakens like a raven,
Fluttering and dark, opening her heart
To nest the voice that first whispered the earth
From dream into wind, stone, sky and ocean.
She offers to mother the shadow’s child;
Her untouched life becoming wild inside.

Music: In His Presence – Sandi Patty

Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 10, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 85 and its enchanting metaphors for heavenly bliss:

  • glory dwells with us
  • kindness and truth meet
  • justice and peace kiss.
  • truth springs out of the earth,
  • justice looks over heaven’s edge

Our souls long for such an environment, don’t they?

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul says that the way to find it is to remove the veil from our hearts:

… whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.
Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is freedom.
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,
as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Edited in Prisma app with Tears

Our prayer with Psalm 85 today might echo that of Rev. Christine Robinson, Minister Emerita of the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

O God, you have given us a beautiful earth—
Grant us the wisdom to use it well.
Lead us to an inner life in which we can rejoice.
Speak peace to us, that we may live in peace.
May your mercy and truth meet together
Righteousness and peace kiss each other,
Surrounding us with your light.
Help us know true prosperity,
And be gentle with your Earth.
Guide our feet in the ways of peace.

Poetry: Lift Not the Painted Veil – Percy Bysshe Shelley

The advice in this poem by Shelley is a rather gloomy antithesis of Paul’s advice to the Corinthians (kind of like looking at the negative instead of the photograph, for those of us who remember the non-digital dream 😉) Still, the poem’s images offer much to think about if we choose not to “lift the veil”.


Lift not the painted veil which those who live
Call Life: though unreal shapes be pictured there,
And it but mimic all we would believe
With colours idly spread,-behind, lurk Fear
And Hope, twin Destinies; who ever weave
Their shadows, o'er the chasm, sightless and drear.

I knew one who had lifted it-he sought,
For his lost heart was tender, things to love,
But found them not, alas! nor was there aught
The world contains, the which he could approve.
Through the unheeding many he did move,
A splendour among shadows, a bright blot
Upon this gloomy scene, a Spirit that strove
For truth, and like the Preacher found it not.

Music: Layers of Tranquility- Karunesh

Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25 which is our Alleluia Verse.

Psalm 25, in total, is a psalm of lament. But today’s single phrase is a golden thread in an otherwise somber weave. It is a simple act of faith and dependence on God. It is the yielding of one’s life into God’s unfolding promise.


Praying with this psalm today, I am nostalgic. On June 9th, 58 years ago, I graduated from high school.

I guess for some, high school graduation isn’t a remarkable or memorable event. But for me, and the two other young women in this photo, it was a time of earth-shaking choices and profound commitments. It was a moment in our personal stories that would shape our lives forever – we had decided to become Sisters of Mercy.


Every life has one – or likely a few – such moments. They are the hinges on which our life story revolves. Praying gratefully with them helps us to recognize God’s enduring Presence in our lives and to rejuvenate our faith. 

When you get as old as I am, the accumulation of gratitude is overwhelming and the trust in God’s continued abiding is assuring.

Robert Frost seems to have been having such a prayer when he wrote his beloved poem. Maybe it will help your prayer today or at some other date of holy reminiscence in your life.


Poetry: The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Music: The Magnificat Medley – John Michael Talbot

I chose this song today for two reasons.

  1. It is the verse in our Responsorial Psalm:

Holy is the Lord our God.

Psalm 99:7

2. The Magnificat was such a moment in Mary’s life.

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, a repeated favorite on the blog – you might like to re-visit any of the 13 entries:


Today, let’s pray with 119 in the light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, … 
was not “yes” and “no,” but always “YES”.
God’s promises … find their “Yes” in him.

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

Here’s what those slightly cryptic but profoundly meaningful phrases mean to me.

No doubt, sometime in your life you have heard someone powerful say “No” to you. Or perhaps life itself has said it with some insurmountable limitations.

It is in those moments that we truly understand what “Yes” means because it has eluded us!

That meaning takes various forms depending on our circumstances. “Yes” can mean freedom, love, mercy, forgiveness, renewal, possibility, hope, fulfillment.

And “Yes” is always a beginning … a mystery that longs to be unfurled, unpeeled – like this beautiful red onion ( that I bought yesterday for a salad that turned into a reflection!)


Psalm 119 “unpeels” the layers of our relationship with God. Here’s how I hear it in my prayer:

O Lovely God,
You are wonderful.
You are my Light.
You amaze me
by the “Yes” of your Love.
You fire my spirit
to love You in return.

Lavish Mercy, turn to me
because I love You.
Steady me in my shadows.
Draw my “yes” 
into the Light 
of your beautiful Face.

based on Psalm 119:129-135

Poem: love is a place – e.e.cummings 

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

Music: The Beauty We Love

Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Monday, June 7, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34, filled with lovely images assuring us of God’s abiding mercy. This mercy moves the psalmist to promise perpetual praise – that means “no matter what”!

I will bless the LORD at all times;
    praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
    the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Psalm 34:2-3

By telling about God’s loving intervention in our lives, the psalmist invites everyone to join in praise:

Glorify the LORD with me,
    let us together extol God’s name.
I sought the LORD who answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:4-5

I’m not so sure it’s an easy thing to rejoice in another’s blessing when we ourselves are feeling overlooked by God. But that’s the whole point of the psalm. It is WE who feel overlooked, not God who is overlooking. 

It is as if we have turned our back to a brilliant sun and complained how cloudy it is. The psalmist says, “Stop that … turn your self around.

Look to God that you may be radiant with joy,
    and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the suffering one called out, the LORD heard,
    and from all distress was saved. 

Psalm 34:6-7

Notice that they were not saved from suffering but from distress. Such salvation rests in the confidence that, even in suffering, we are never alone; that when we take refuge in God, palpable blessing ensues.

The angel of the LORD encamps
    around those who reverence God, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
    blessed the one who takes refuge in God’s embrace.

Psalm 34:8-9

Surely Psalm 34 calls us
to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes
which we can savor in today’s Gospel.

Poetry: Safe Harbor by Robert B. Shaw


Music: Two songs suggested themselves today. Here are both🤗 Enjoy!

Multiplied by needtobreathe
(notice the radiant diamonds)

Psalm 34 – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I sought the Lord
And He answered me
And delivered me
From every fear
Those who look on Him
Are radiant
They'll never be ashamed
They'll never be ashamed

This poor man cried
And the Lord heard me
And saved me from
My enemies
The Son of God
Surrounds His saints
He will deliver them
He will deliver them

Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Oh taste and see
That the Lord is good
Oh blessed is he
Who hides in Him
Oh fear the Lord
Oh all you saints
He'll give you everything
He'll give you everything

Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever

Let us bless the Lord
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise

Let us bless the Lord
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise

Let us bless the Lord
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise

Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Oh taste and see
That the Lord is good
He'll give you everything
He'll give you everything

Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

June 4, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 146, a song of uninhibited delight and thanksgiving to God.

Coming after our reading from Tobit, we see just what such utter delight looks like.

That “angelic fish gall” re-lit the world for Tobit in a way he had never imagined before!


Sometimes we too have to experience a profound blindness before we really begin to see rightly. Let’s be honest: haven’t we all been blind a few times in our lives.

  • Blessings unrecognized
  • Friendships taken for granted
  • Kindnesses overlooked
  • People misjudged 
  • Needs ignored
  • Expectations unsurrendered 
  • Biases unexamined
  • Opportunities bypassed
  • Perhaps even responsibilities shirked

Praying with Psalm 146, we might take note of those whom the Lord favors:

the oppressed, the hungry. captives, those who are bowed down; 
the just, strangers, orphans and widows

These favored of God share a common trait – a vulnerability learned through suffering.


None of us seeks suffering in our lives. But we all will encounter it personally at least to some degree. Further, all in the community of faith are called to share the sufferings of others by our works of mercy.

In both instances, can we allow suffering to let us see the world differently, to lift the scales of any blindness in our hearts? Because here is the beautiful mystery: the God of Mercy is with us in our lights and shadows — and is always Light.

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
    I will praise the LORD all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God while I live. 

Psalm 146:1

Poetry: God Pours Light – Hafiz

God
pours light
into every cup,
quenching darkness.
The proudly pious
stuff their cups with parchment
and critique the taste of ink
while God pours light
and the trees lift their limbs
without worry of redemption,
every blossom a chalice.
May I seduce those withered souls
with words that wet their parched lips
as light
pours like rain
into every empty cup
set adrift on the Infinite Ocean.


Music: Amazing Grace – Leo Rojas

Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

June 2, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, a heartfelt expression of how to traverse life’s challenges with persevering faith.

Set between our two anguished readings today, Psalm 25 is a solace. Could poor Tobit run into more trouble! His allegorical life, which mirrors Israel’s historic troubles, is a real melodrama.

Then our Gospel recounts the Sadducees’ approach to troubles similar to Tobit’s. They get all up in their heads rather than open their minds to faith.


But Psalm 25 gives us the formula for the practice of such faith:

TRUST IN GOD

In you I trust; let me not be put to shame,
    let not my enemies exult over me.
No one who waits for you shall be put to shame;
    those shall be put to shame who heedlessly break faith.


LEARN GOD’S WAYS

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.


REFLECT ON GOD’S FAITHFULNESS 

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
    and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
    because of your goodness, O LORD.


BE HUMBLE AND JUST

Good and upright is the LORD;
    thus showing sinners the way.
God guides the humble to justice,
    and teaches the humble the way.


Today, as we pray Psalm 25, we might reflect on our experience and practice of these attitudes in our own lives.


Poetry: Let Your God Love You – Edwina Gately

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.

Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.

That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.

Quiet.
Still.
Be.

Let your God—
Love you.

Music: To You, O Lord – Scott Soper

Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 112, a hymn deeply rooted in the biblical concept of law and justice.

Blessed the one who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in God’s commands.
That person’s posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.

Psalm 112:1-2

In our first reading, as Tobit and Anna share a familiar type of marital spat, we see that there are many perspectives from which one can approach the concept of justice. Anna knows her actions to be just from experience. Tobit analyzes the situation from judgement and law.

But in our Gospel, the wily Pharisees try to manipulate the law in order to ensnare Jesus:

Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion.
You do not regard a person’s status
but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?

Mark 12:14

Jesus, who is the essence of Truth, is not trapped. After examining the coin which was given him:

Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.
They were utterly amazed at him.”

Mark 12:15

Our psalm tells us that understanding God’s law is grounded in the transparency of our own truth:

The just one’s heart is firm, 
trusting in the LORD.
It is steadfast and fearless.
From its abundant confidence, 
such a heart lavishly gives to the poor;
with a generosity that shall endure forever,
standing firm to glorify God.

Psalm 112: 7-9

Our readings give us a lot to think about. And if nothing else, a delightful story from Tobit. 🤗


Poetry: Truth by Rumi

The truth was a mirror 
in the hands of God. 
It fell, 
and broke into pieces. 
Everybody took a piece of it, 
and they looked at it 
and thought they had the truth.


Music: The Voice of Truth – Casting Crowns

Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday May 29, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, full of beautiful words for us to pluck and relish. 

The sublime British writer and theologian C.S. Lewis says this about Psalm 19 and how the ancient Israelite may have appreciated it:

“Law” … must have shone with an extraordinary radiance. Sweeter than honey; or if that metaphor does not suit us who have not such a sweet tooth as all ancient peoples (partly because we have plenty of sugar), let us say like mountain water, like fresh air after a dungeon, like sanity after a nightmare. But, once again, the best image is in a Psalm, the 19th. I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world. Most readers will remember its structure; six verses about Nature, five about the Law, and four of personal prayer.

C.S. Lewis, Reflection on the Psalms

As we pray today with the verses about God’s Law, we may consider each word as a facet of the Holy Spirit’s gifts given at Pentecost and at our Confirmation:

The precepts of the Lord are:

perfect
refreshing
trustworthy
wise
right
joy giving
clear
enlightening
pure
enduring 
true
just
precious
sweet


Meditating on the virtues, wouldn’t we like to fill our days with their peace, beauty, and wisdom?

The writer of Sirach surely wanted to, whose simple and profound prayer is the perfect complement to our psalm.

I thank the LORD and I praise him;
    I bless the name of the LORD.
When I was young and innocent,
    I sought wisdom openly in my prayer
I prayed for her before the temple,
    and I will seek her until the end,
    and she flourished as a grape soon ripe.
My heart delighted in her,
My feet kept to the level path
    because from earliest youth I was familiar with her.

Sirach 51: 12-15

Praying with these readings
may lead us to be awed
by the Spirit’s power in our lives
and open us to
its transformative presence.

Poetry: Psalm 19: XXIX Caeli enarrant – Malcolm Guite

In that still place where earth and heaven meet
Under mysterious starlight, raise your head
and gaze up at their glory: ‘the complete

Consort dancing’ as one poet said
Of his own words. But these are all God’s words

A shining poem, waiting to be read

Afresh in every heart. Now look towards
The bright’ning east, and see the splendid sun
Rise and rejoice, the icon of his Lord’s

True Light. Be joyful with him, watch him run
His course, receive the treasure of his light
Pouring like honeyed gold till day is done.

As sweet and strong as all God’s laws, as right
As all his judgements and as clean and pure,
All given for your growth, and your delight!


Music: Psalm 19 – The Law is Perfect