Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 51 which expresses the ardent desire for forgiveness and reconciliation.

The psalm reflects back to our first reading – an episode of sibling rivalry, jealousy, and hidden motives.

Moses, favored of God and leader of the people, makes a questionable choice. He marries outside the tribe, after telling everyone else not to. Hmmm. His siblings, Aaron and Miriam, don’t like that. So they indignantly complain:

Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks?
Does God not speak through us also?

Numbers 12:2

God hears their complaint and sees through it. God sees that they are less concerned about the marriage and more concerned about themselves. They’re tired of Moses telling them what to do. They think God could have picked a better leader — one of them!

God sets them straight about how special Moses is, and their responsibility to support, not undermine, him.

Should there be a prophet among you,
in visions will I reveal myself to him,
in dreams will I speak to him;
not so with my servant Moses!
Throughout my house he bears my trust:
face to face I speak to him;
plainly and not in riddles.
The presence of the LORD he beholds.

Numbers 12:6-7

The whole story is really about motives. Everything we do must be done out of love – out of reverence for God, and out of respect and hope for ourselves and others. This is what it means to have a clean heart. And it is the plea of Psalm 51.

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not off from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Psalm 51:12-13

Reflection: This is a great piece by Sister Joyce Rupp on a clean heart (published in America magazine)

Music: some Gospel smooth jazz from Fred Hammond who is one of the most popular figures in contemporary Gospel music

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Monday, August 2, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 81, and today’s verses sound a little harsh. The Lord seems a bit fed up with Israel’s hungers:

My people heard not my voice,
    and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
    they walked according to their own counsels.

Psalm 81:12-13

Translated to 21st century jargon that verse might sound like this:

I love them and all, but come on!
    They don’t follow my advice;
so the heck with their stubbornness.
    Let them stew in their own juices!

Renee’s unofficial imaginings 🙂

But see, here’s the thing. God is never like that with us. God is, instead, everlastingly patient with us. God stays with us until we – hopefully – respond to Grace.

And don’t we sometimes really test God’s patience! Moses was great at it — pushing and pushing for God to make things easier for him. 

I cannot carry all this people by myself,
for they are too heavy for me.
If this is the way you will deal with me,
then please do me the favor of killing me at once,
so that I need no longer face this distress.

Numbers 11:14-15

Picture Moses standing in front of God, hands on hips yelling, “I’ve had it! Why not just kill me now?!?!”

The verse actually makes me chuckle because I also picture God, smothering a smile at Moses’s tantrum, and thinking, “Maybe some quail will settle this guy down for the long haul.”


Today’s psalm and reading from Numbers remind us that each of our lives is an unfolding journey in relationship with God. It is a journey that requires us to listen and respond over and over again. At each response we move ever deeper into the heart of God, letting go of those things which impede us from our destination.

If only my people would hear me,
    and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
    against their foes I would turn my hand.

Psalm 81: 14-15

God is our help
and is ALWAYS present with us.
If we can listen to our deep lives,
we will know that
and our spirits will sing.

Poetry: Moses by Alan Kanfer

Whatever residue of pride adhere
To eyes, to bones, to hair will shed like sand
When we discover the The Name is near
And fire is Light, and we are asked to stand.
That night my hair was like a fell of sheep,
My bones like water, I was weak and dumb:
My perfume reeked like camp whores that we keep.
I stood, receiving “I am that I am.”
How small the distance is between the root
And flower: the Name is near as our consent,
As our denial. Coming up the hill on foot
Long after, knowing we must be content
With shadow of The Name, I shed my will
But not my love: the final miracle.


Music: Frangeti – George Winston

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 1, 2021

Today in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our Sunday readings, so full of wisdom for our lives.

“Don’t we have anything decent to eat around here?” “There’s nothing to eat in this house !”  

How many times do parents hear these complaints from their growing teenagers! The problem? They’re not looking for the apples, or eggs, or yogurt, or avocados which actually are in the fridge. They’re looking for junk!

Today’s first reading reflects a similar situation with the Jews in the desert. They are hungry, but not for the spiritual food Yahweh is offering them. They complain continuously. So God relents, feeding them manna and quail. But God is clear. He says, “I have done this so that you may know I am the Lord, your God.”


In the Gospel, Jesus admonishes his listeners, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” Jesus doesn’t mean we should stop eating. He knows that we need food and other things in order to live. What He wants us to understand is that these things have only secondary importance to the food for our soul, a sustenance which we often relegate to inferior status, to “when we have time”.


In his advice to the Ephesians, Paul says that to live without spiritual awareness is “to live in the futility of our minds”. It’s a powerful phrase, generating an image of us running around in our heads after all sorts of vain worries and goals — junk.

Paul’s advice? Get over that running around! Put on a New Self!

At our essence, we are hungry for the
Bread of Life.
Nothing else will fill that emptiness.


Poetry:  We Are Such a Mix – Mary Ellen Smajo, author at ignatianspirituality.com

we are such a mix of thorns and thread;
why do You insist on living in the midst,
even among the broken bowls and spilled strengths?
I’ve seen You sift among the crumbs
and find (I don’t know how) a loaf;
what we tear, touch to make us mend;
and show again to sift and share and be again the bread.


Music: Bread of Life ~ Bernadette Farrell 

Bread of life, hope of the world,
Jesus Christ, our brother:
feed us now, give us life,
lead us to one another.

As we proclaim your death,
as we recall your life,
we remember your promise
to return again.

Bread of life, hope of the world,
Jesus Christ, our brother:
feed us now, give us life,
lead us to one another.

The bread we break and share
was scattered once as grain:
just as now it is gathered,
make your people one.

Bread of life, hope of the world,
Jesus Christ, our brother:
feed us now, give us life,
lead us to one another.

We eat this living bread,
we drink this saving cup:
sign of hope in our broken world,
source of lasting love.

Hold us in unity,
in love for all to see;
that the world may believe in you,
God of all who live.

You are the bread of peace,
you are the wine of joy,
broken now for your people,
poured in endless love.

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 67 which calls on God to bless all people.

O God, be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of your countenance and come to us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
   among all nations, your salvation.

Psalm 67: 1-2

This psalm is notable for its inclusiveness of nations outside of Israel. Most psalms focus inwardly on Israel’s needs, hopes and memories. But Psalm 67 calls on God to gather and bless universally:

May the nations be glad and exult
    because you rule the peoples in equity;
    the nations on the earth you guide.


For this reason, Psalm 67 has been called “the missionary psalm”, and is such a fitting prayer on this feast of St. Ignatius who founded a community which has carried the faith throughout the world.


As we pray our psalm today, we might examine how our own faith reaches out, includes and blesses others.  

Our final verses today point back to our first reading from Leviticus. While the math and calendar counting could get me pretty mixed up, the message is clear. It is a Jubilee message:

  • Stop. 
  • Take a good look at your life and the harvest of your years. 
  • Be grateful.
  • Be just.
  • Share. 
  • Bring others into your bounty because it all belongs to God, not you.

When we do these things, Psalm 67 becomes our prayer:

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, 
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has brought forth its increase; 
may you, O God our God, bless us.
May you bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of you.


Poetry: This Is My Song by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

Music: Finlandia, Opus 26

The above poem is sung to the tune of the final hymn in this work by Jean Sibelius. I think you will enjoy this beautiful video, especially the young ducks about midway through. Be sure to click the little arrowhead under the right side of the video to read the great history of this musical composition.

Friday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 30, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 81, a jubilant call to remember and celebrate our relationship with God.

Take up a melody, and sound the timbrel,
    the pleasant harp and the lyre.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
    at the full moon, on our solemn feast.


And this is to be done periodically and regularly as the reading from Leviticus so clearly stipulates. Each new effort at such praise renews us, gives us a fresh chance on our faith journey, and calls us more deeply to our part in the faithful community.


As young nuns, we were introduced to the practice of Retreat Sunday. The first Sunday of each month was a day of complete silence and prayer. I loved it! Many of us still practice it. It’s a chance to “Blow the trumpet at the new moon”, a revitalizing of our soul’s focus and our heart’s devotion.

I know many of my very busy readers – moms and dads and essential workers – just wish they could spend a whole Sunday in quiet prayer! But I hope you can find at least some time, on a regular basis, to give your soul this gift.


Instead of a poem:

Some extra music today: the trumpet highlight from Mahler’s Blumine. The Blumine movement was originally one of seven pieces of incidental music composed by Mahler in “two days” during June 1884, for a performance of Joseph Victor von Scheffel’s play Der Trompeter von Säkkingen (“The Trumpeter of Säkkingen”). The Blumine movement in the symphony contains little or no revisions from the original version, including its orchestration which utilises only a small section of the full symphonic orchestra which is used more fully in the other movements. The Andante movement begins and ends with a lyrical cantilena for the trumpet. August Beer described it as “a heartfelt, rapturous trumpet melody that alternates with melancholy song on the oboe. (Wikipedia)


Music: The reading from Leviticus made me think how all leaders describe their perfect kingdom and set the rules to achieve it. The song that came to mind is “Camelot”, where King Arthur pours out his hope for a beautiful world.

Certainly it’s not a religious song, but I think it is a spiritual one. Not only does it describe a perfect Creation, it – like Leviticus – tells us to remember our first hope so that we keep it alive. Of course, the fictional Camelot ended through human infidelity but our sacred “Camelot” endures eternally.

Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 84 – one of the loveliest.

My soul yearns and pines 
    for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
    cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest
    in which she puts her young–
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
    my king and my God!

Psalm 84: 3-6

The image of God’s dwelling places raises so many possibilities for prayer:

  • Mary, the dwelling of Jesus as he completed incarnation 
  • Eucharist, Christ’s continuing dwelling with us
  • Ourselves and all creatures as dwelling places of God’s spirit

Thinking of a dwelling place, many characteristics come to mind. Foremost for me is hospitality. We must be welcomed into a place in order to dwell 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.


When we open our hearts to be dwelling places for God, 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.


Poetry: Dwelling Place – Henry Vaughan (1621-1695) who was a Welsh metaphysical poet, illustrator, translator, and physician

John 1:38-39 

What happy secret fountain, 
Fair shade or mountain, 
Whose undiscovered virgin glory 
Boasts it this day, though not in story, 
Was then thy dwelling? Did some cloud, 
Fixed to a tent, descend a shroud 
My distressed Lord? Or did a star, 
Beckoned by Thee, though high and far, 
In sparkling smiles haste gladly down 
To lodge light and increase her own? 
My dear, dear God! I do not know 
What lodged Thee then, nor where, nor how; 
But I am sure Thou dost now come 
Oft to a narrow, homely room, 
Where Thou too hast but the least part: 
My God, I mean my sinful heart.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ

(If the video says “Unavailable”, click on “Watch on YouTube” to get it.

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 28, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 99, one of the six “enthronement psalms” which celebrate God as King.

The psalm is filled with awestruck sentiment such as one might feel before a king:

From the pillar of cloud God spoke to them;
    they heard the decrees and the law God gave them.
Extol the LORD, our God,
    and worship at the holy mountain;
    for holy is the LORD, our God.

Psalm 99:6-9

The images evoked are similar to those of our first reading with Moses’ face shining from his meetings with God:

As Moses came down from Mount Sinai
with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands,
he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant
while he conversed with the LORD.

Exodus 34:29

The neat thing about all this glory is that a very tender human image nestles in the wording:

… worship at God’s footstool;
   for God is holy!

Psalm 99:5

Imagine the Beloved’s footstool – some precious place in the universe that invites you to God’s side. For someone it may be beside the ocean. For another it may be a quiet glen. It may be at your window listening to the sparrow’s morning song.

Wherever it is in the glorious universe, we are welcomed to rest with God at the peaceful footstool. We are free to speak as easily with God as Moses did in the little Sinai tent. And no doubt, we will receive a certain radiance, perhaps not so visible as Moses’. But we will be changed by such prayer.


Poetry: Here is Thy Footstool – Rabindranath Tagore 

HERE IS THY footstool and there rest thy feet 
where live the poorest, and lowliest, and lost.
When I try to bow to thee, 
my obeisance cannot reach down to the depth 
where thy feet rest among the poorest, and lowliest, and lost.
Pride can never approach to where thou walkest 
in the clothes of the humble among the poorest, and lowliest, and lost.
My heart can never find its way 
to where thou keepest company with the companionless 
among the poorest, the lowliest, and the lost.


Music: Resting Place – Daphne Rademaker

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103 whose verses this morning remind us of God’s munificence.

Munificent – it’s a wonderful word whose Latin roots literally mean gift-making, abundant generosity.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
    slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

Psalm 103:8

Praying this morning, I realize that I can’t even begin to number the gifts God has given me.


But like Moses in today’s first reading, I want to visit God in the sacred tent of prayer – learning, thanking and awakening to the Mercy in my life.

… and, like Moses, to invite God into every moment, to ask God to keep company with me on my journey:

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O LORD,
do come along in our company.


Poetry: Bearing the Light – Denise Levertov

Rain-diamonds, this winter morning, embellish the tangle
of unpruned pear-tree twigs;
each solitaire, placed, it appears,
with considered judgement,
bears the light beneath the rifted clouds —
the indivisible shared out in endless abundance.


Music: In the Garden – written by C. Austin Miles in 1912. Miles wrote nearly 400 hymns, this one the most famous.

And who doesn’t love Anne Murray’s mellow voice!

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Monday, July 26, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 106 which, like its companion piece Psalm 105, is about the praise that comes from remembering.

The difference between the two psalms is this:

In Psalm 105, Israel has remembered God’s goodness, thus a celebratory tone

In Psalm 106, the psalmist recounts Israel’s forgetfulness of God’s goodness, thus a repentant tone.

In Psalm 106, a companion piece to Psalm 105, the same inventory is recited, but this time the focus is on the recurring recalcitrance of infidelity on the part of Israel. That is, it is a confession of sin, and it ends in petition: 

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. (v.47)

Walter Brueggemann

The message for us? Here is what I take from this psalm:

1 – Never forget or overlook God’s presence and action in my life. 

But they soon forgot all God had done;
they had no patience for God’s plan.

Psalm 106:13

We have to give ourselves the time to search our circumstances for God’s presence and invitation to Grace. 

This practice has always helped me – pausing occasionally during the day, before or after my many tasks and encounters, simply to raise this question: Where is God in this moment?


2 – Structure my life in such a way that it calls me back to grateful remembering.

For their sake God remembered stayed fast to the covenant
and relented in abundant mercy,
Winning for them compassion
from all that held them captive.

Psalm 106: 45-46

Our lives are complex. We have a lot of responsibilities, needs, desires, obstacles, hopes, and frustrations. In trying to deal with life’s complexities, we might begin to think that it all depends on us. We might get tangled in our own machinations. We might forget that it is God who breathed us into life and holds us in it through all our experiences. 

Brief morning and evening prayers of gratitude, hope, reflection, repentance, and thanksgiving – these can keep us aware and focused. Slowly we may build to an hourly remembering of God’s companionship and action in our lives. Ultimately, with patience and practice, the awareness becomes constant and sustaining.


There are two wonderful books that have helped me with the prayer of awareness for those who might be interested.

  1. Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr
  1. Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day by Brother David Steindl-Rast

Poetry: I live my life in widening circles – Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

Thought and Music: The Great Song – Brother David

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings assure us that God cares about our hungry spirits and will satisfy them.

Both the prophet Elisha and Jesus respond to the needs of the hungry crowds by the power of their faith. In each story, there is only a small amount of food to meet the overwhelming need of the people. But those small amounts, given selflessly and gratefully, renew themselves until all are satisfied.


Our spiritual hungers are deep, and much harder to fill than our physical ones. Sometimes, we don’t even know what we are longing for. Thus we may end up filling our emptiness with distractions and junk.


Today’s readings encourage us to turn our soul’s needs toward God. St. Augustine said this:

You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless (hungry)
until they rest in You.


Notice that in Jesus’s miracle of the loaves and fishes, there is one key action before the multiplication occurs.

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.

Let’s sift through both the large and the small sustenances of our life for the things that we are grateful for. When we lift these up in thanksgiving, glimpsing the loving face of God, other graces will begin unexpectedly to multiply around and within us.

Music: O, My Soul Hungered – Corbin Allred