Rachel Weeps

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/103018.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus poses a question to his followers:

“What is the Kingdom of Heaven like?” It is rhetorical question and he goes on to explain, in beautiful symbols, the joy and fullness of heaven.

But were Jesus walking physically among us today, He might answer his own question by saying:

This is what it is NOT like:

  • the killing of innocents because of their faith, heritage, lifestyle or politics
  • the starvation and incarceration of children from Yemen to Mexico to Syria
  • the fueling of war by an economy of arms sales
  • the destruction of an environment given to us in trust
  • the systematic dehumanization of humanity through violence, lies, greed, and political arrogance
  • the ignorant indifference in “good” people which blindly fosters such dehumanization

Indeed, Rachel weeps for her beloved martyrs in Pittsburgh, for her dear children in Jeffersonville – as do all of decent and loving heart. And she weeps also for thousands who die daily from the failure of love. She weeps for all of us. In a society this sick with violence and hate, we are all victims.

Let us all choose the only survival — to act in mercy, justice and love. Let us do so to the memory of these martyrs and the many whom they follow.

Music: Shalom Aleichem

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gP2S5KPQID4

Her First Look into God’s Eyes

Monday, October 29, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102918.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus touches the bent-over woman, uncurling her infirmity into unimagined glory. This passage, like a time-lapse photo, shows her long-burdened spirit awaken, stretch into grace, and blossom at the fingertips of God!

O Sacred Spring for her long-wintered soul!

We pray with her today to our gracious Jesus, Who bypasses laws of Sabbath and humans, to spring loose the Spirit from any hibernation.

What joy or hope lies dormant in us – or in our beloveds – from years of doubt, fear or unbelieving? Is there a needed grace or healing we have grown almost tired of desiring?

Let us bring it to God in trust today, walking beside this bent-over woman. Though she could not yet look in His eyes, she knew He saw her, loved her, and would heal her.

We might pray with a poem by Mary Oliver which captures some of the same emotions as the powerful Gospel passage:

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not you have ever
dared to pray.

Music: Healer of My Soul – John Michael Talbot

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K5PLdnz5UdU

Christ Depends on Us

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

       Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090518.cfm

Today, in Mercy, both Paul and Luke talk about ministry – our loving and merciful service to one another through prayer, word, and action.

LK4_18 good news

Paul says this ministry must be humble and mutual. This is because all the good that any of us does comes from God, not from us.

Jesus shows us that our ministry must be immediate and practical, responding to the present needs of our sisters and brothers. You wouldn’t think Jesus had time to pay attention to Peter’s mother-in-law, but he did. Her need drew his ministry out of him.

You will meet your own “Peter’s mother-in-law” today – someone whose apparent need touches your goodness. They may need a smile, an encouragement, an invitation or a gentle correction from you. They may come to you from a distance, in a request for service or funding. They may come in news story crying out for your prayers or civic action.

People can be poor in many ways.  Even the apparently free can be held captive by hidden burdens. Sometimes these burdens hide under a false bravado, impudence, indifference, or pride that make it difficult to pity their bearers. 

We will meet these people in our families, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods. 

Our response should reflect the humble and spontaneous Mercy and Love of Jesus who was always honest, respectful and kind. This is the ministry of every Christian because…

Music: Christ Has No Body Now But Yours ~ David Ogden

Oops!

Friends,

This paragraph was left out of this morning’s reflection due to my being half-asleep yesterday.

If you insert it before the third paragraph, all might make more sense.🤗

I hope you all have a great weekend! Thanks for following my blog! ❤️

On the surface, the parable seems to be about wealth – in any form, and how we use it for God’s glory. But on a deeper level, it is about what keeps us from using our talents effectively: fear of failure, laziness, selfishness and just plain blindness to the gifts we have been given.

We Behold the Splendor of God

Monday, August 6, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080618.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Peter, James, and John – those whom the Lord would most heavily depend on at the time of the Crucifixion – these three were given a sacred privilege. They witnessed Christ transformed by his Divinity, shining before the Father whose voice came down from heaven.

transfiguration

Icon of Transfiguration by Alexander Ainetdinov

Peter’s account in today’s second reading might seem almost too much to believe. Yet, Peter’s very human telling of the event is most convincing. He doesn’t wax eloquent about how privileged the three were. He simply describes the event and says, “We were terrified.” — as indeed we all might be if we came face to face with God’s glory.

Perhaps they received this gift in order to bolster them through the Passion and Death of Christ, or to open their hearts to believe in the Resurrection. These men were the key leaders who would pick up the message of Jesus when it appeared to fall to the earth at the foot of Cross. They needed a deeply confirmed faith.

So do we. We face a lot of faith-sapping realities in our world. And God does give us “Transfiguration Moments” too – times when the thin veil of hard reality is lifted and we glimpse the face of God. These moments may come at the birth of a child, the devotion of a beloved, the majesty of nature, the simplicity of silence, the deliverance from harm, the momentary awareness that our breath belongs to God.

We must savor and store these Lights, like the three disciples did, to strengthen ourselves for the shadows. As Peter says in his epistle:

… we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.
You will do well to be attentive to it,
as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 

Music: Transfiguration by Carey Landry

We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of Jesus.
We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of the Son.
And oh, how his beauty transforms us, the wonder of presence abiding.
Transparent hearts give reflection of Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.
Jesus, Lord of Glory, Jesus, Beloved Son, oh, how good to be with you;
how good to share your light; how good to share your light.

God Is With Us

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori 

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jeremiah continues in a plaintive conversation with God. Things are not going well for Jeremiah. His message has met complete resistance. But Jeremiah doesn’t give up. He keeps talking things over with God, and God patiently leads Jeremiah to deeper relationship and understanding.

Alphonsus

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus confirms that the journey into God’s deep heart is a challenging one. It is like looking for a treasure or finding a precious pearl. Not everyone is successful in the “treasure hunt”! It takes openness, trust, perseverance and love.

St. Alphonsus Liguori gives this advice about growing closer to God:

Acquire the habit of speaking to God
as if you were alone with Him,
familiarly and with confidence and love,
as to the dearest and most loving of friends.

Music: Tu Scendi dalle Stelle ~ written by St. Alphonsus Liguori Who, as well as being a renowned moral theologian and Doctor of Church, was a brilliant composer and poet.

Tu scendi dalle stelle
(Italian)

Tu scendi dalle stelle
O Re del Cielo
E vieni in una grotta
Al freddo al gelo.
E vieni in una grotta
Al freddo al gelo.

O Bambino mio Divino
Io ti vedo qui a tremar,
O Dio Beato
Ah, quanto ti costò
L’avermi amato.
Ah, quanto ti costò
L’avermi amato.

A te che sei del mondo,
Il creatore
Mancano panni e fuoco,
O mio Signore.
Mancano panni e fuoco,
O mio Signore.
Caro eletto, Pargoletto,

Quanto questa povertà,
Piu m’innamora
Giacche ti fece amor
Povero ancora.
Giacche ti fece amor
Povero ancora.

(Translation)

You Come Down from the Stars

You come down from the star
Oh King of Heavens,
And you come in a cave
In the cold, in the frost.
And you come in a cave
In the cold, in the frost.

Oh my Divine Baby
I see you trembling here,
Oh Blessed God,
Ah, how much it cost you,
Your loving me.
Ah, how much it cost you,
Your loving me.

For you, who are of all the world
The creator,
No robes and fire,
Oh my Lord.
No robes and fire,
Oh my Lord.

Dear chosen one, little infant
This dire poverty,
Makes me love you more
Since Love made you
Poor now.
Since Love made you
Poor now.

Grandparents

July 26, 2018 – Memorial of Sts. Anne and Joachim, Parents of Mary

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072618.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the grandparents of Jesus. Nothing is known of them from the Bible, but there are references in an apocryphal piece called the Gospel of James. There are also many legends surrounding this holy couple. But the fact is that we know little or nothing, for certain about them.

Ps36_ Anne _Joachim

We shape our conception of Anne and Joachim from what we know about their daughter, a woman of such profound goodness that she was the means for God to become one of us. We give them honor and devotion because of what we know about their grandson, Jesus.

Anne and Joachim, together with Mary and Joseph, formed the first, loving nuclear community that fostered the life of Jesus. Like all newborns, Jesus was given over by God into these human hands. What an awesome responsibility and privilege!

Let us pray today for all young children that they may be blessed with caring parents and grandparents. Let us pray especially for grandparents who carry a special kind of love to their grands, one filled with a generational wisdom, generous fidelity, and tempered mercy so necessary for a joyful life.

And, children, listen to your grands.  They really have seen it all, ridden the big waves of time.. really did – ahem – walk to school with the snow above their ears! They can be a fount of wisdom and love. Trust them! Respect them! Enjoy them!

Music: a children’s song, especially for the Grands among us. May Anne and Joachim bless you today!

Need a Little Music?

Friends,

It appears that Wednesday’s music link did not come through to my email subscribers. If you would like to hear the music, click on the blue title “Can You Drink the Cup?” ( just to the right of my picture in your email.) That should take you to my website, where the music link is functional.

Thanks and blessings on your evening,

Sister Renee

PS: I have also tried to put the link here. I hope it works 🙂

Can You Drink the Cup?

July 25, 2018 – Feast of St. James, Apostle

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072518.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we learn a lesson in humble leadership, thanks to “Mrs. Zebedee”. Our Gospel recounts the story of the mother of James and John interceding for her sons with Jesus. Like many overprotective mothers, she intervenes in their adult lives. She wants to make sure they get the best deal for their investment with Jesus.

Mt20_22 cup

Unfortunately, “Mrs. Zebedee” has missed the whole point of Christian discipleship. Her boys have decided to follow a man who says things like this:

  • The last shall be first and the first, last.
  • Unless you lay down your life, you cannot follow me.
  • Whoever takes the lowly position of a child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The seats at Christ’s right and left, which she requests for her sons, will bring them only the rewards of humility and sacrificial service.

Jesus is gentle with “Mrs. Zebedee”. He understands how hard it is for any of us to comprehend the hidden glory of a deeply Christian life. We are surrounded by a world that screams the opposite to us:

  • Me first!
  • Stand your ground!
  • Good guys finish last!

So Jesus turns to James and John. One can imagine the bemused look on his face. He knows the hearts of these two men. He knows they have already given themselves to him. So he asks them for a confession of faith, “Can you drink the cup that I will drink?”

Their humble, faith-filled answer no doubt stuns their mother. She is left in wonder at the holy men her fishermen sons have become. Perhaps it is the beginning of her own deep conversion to Christ.

As we pray with this passage on the feast of St. James the Apostle, where do find ourselves in this scene? How immediate, sincere, and complete is our response to Jesus’ question: “Can you drink the cup….?”

Music: Can You Drink the Cup? ( Be patient. The song has a slightly delayed start😀)

Can You Drink The Cup?

Lyrics by Pamela Martin, Music by Craig Courtney
Copyright 2001, Beckenhorst Press, Inc.

Can you dring the cup,
embrace it in your hands?
Can you look inside
and face what it demands?

In the wine you see
reflections of your soul.
No one else can drink
this cup that you must hold.

Can you drink the cup?
Then you must lift it high
though this cup of joy
holds pain and sacrifice.

When you lift your cup,
raise it unafraid.
Lift it up, this cup
of life, and celebrate.

Can you drink the cup
until there is no more?
When the wine is gone,
Christ Himself will pour.

Though you drink it all
the cup is never dry,
God keeps filling it
with everlasting life.

Heads or Tails?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070318.cfm

Jn20_27doubt

Has doubt ever dogged you, or at least nipped at the edges of your soul?  All kinds of doubt, I’m talking about! Doubt yourself. Doubt your loved ones. Doubt the Church, the government, the media. You get the idea.

Some doubt is good. It’s more like “discernment”, and it saves us from misplaced trust. A skill that’s honed through a lifetime, it can eventually be exercised prudentially, without skepticism or aloofness.

But another type of doubt can be crippling. Call it the “not enough” type: I am not good enough, smart enough, good-looking enough, experienced enough, – so on and on – to take on a challenge or make a contribution. Ever felt that kind of doubt?

There is third type of doubt which I call “the flip side of faith”. It’s that fine line where we balance between wanting to believe and wanting to know. This type of doubt whispers things like this in our minds: “You don’t really know if there is a God, so how can you believe?” But isn’t that the whole point of faith? If we really knew, for certain, of God’s existence, we wouldn’t have to believe!

What’s the difference between these flip sides of the coin? 

With faith, we give our love and service unreservedly, even though we have not seen. With doubt, we skimp or reserve these until given proof.

So today, we meet “doubting Thomas”. He needed the touch of nail marks and lance wounds before he could believe. And it’s not hard to understand why.

The Resurrection of Jesus was mind-blowing. It changed history for all time to come. It conquered the one unconquerable – DEATH itself. Thomas had not yet seen proof of the Resurrection. The other disciples had. No wonder his coin was spinning between heads and tails!

What about us? Have we seen the Easter Power in our lives? Have we let God win the toss up between our faith and doubt? Today, on this feast of St. Thomas, we might ask his help to let us learn from the wounds of Christ exactly how that Power can assure us.

Music: Blessed Assurance ~ a well-known Christian hymn. The lyrics were written in 1873 by blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby to the music written in 1873 by Phoebe Knapp.