A Soul’s Evolution

January 12, 2022
Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings lead us through an evolution of grace from:

Revelation
to
Presence
to
Purpose 

How simply charming yet powerful is the wonderful story of Samuel’s call! We can picture the tousled-hair boy sleeping near the Ark of the Covenant, youthfully unaware of his awesome surroundings.

God’s voice insists into Samuel’s unawareness, finally capturing his attention after four tries.

Oil painting on canvas, The Calling of Samuel by Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (Plympton 1723 – London 1792), circa 1770-6. A half-length portrait of a young boy, turned to the left, gazing upwards, his right hand outstretched, wearing a loose brown cloak. Stormy sky.

Extraordinary Revelation 


From that moment, Samuel lives fully in the Presence of the Lord:

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
Thus all Israel from Dan to Beersheba
came to know that Samuel was an accredited prophet of the LORD.

1 Samuel 3: 19-20
The Prophet Samuel – Claude Vignon

Extraordinary Presence



Mark’s Gospel narrates another call for us – the emerging call of Jesus and his mentoring of his disciples to share his sacred ministry:

Rising very early before dawn, 
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons 
throughout the whole of Galilee.

Mark 1: 35-39

Extraordinary Purpose


As we pray this reflection today, we may be just waking up as Samuel was. We may be slowly emerging from the desert of our sleep. Or we may be at a point in our spiritual lives where the Light is dawning on us for some other reason.

Wherever we are, let’s be aware that each “dawning” brings 

  • a new Revelation of grace
  • a deeper invitation to God’s Presence
  • a fresh call to engage God’s Purpose for our lives

Poetry: The Collar by George Herbert (1593 – 1633) a poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. Herbert is considered one of the great metaphysical poets.
In this poem, he writes about the evolution of his desire to fully answer God’s call, symbolized in the priestly collar that he wore. The final lines remind me of Samuel’s call.

I struck the board, and cried, “No more; 

                         I will abroad! 

What? shall I ever sigh and pine? 

My lines and life are free, free as the road, 

Loose as the wind, as large as store. 

          Shall I be still in suit? 

Have I no harvest but a thorn 

To let me blood, and not restore 

What I have lost with cordial fruit? 

          Sure there was wine 

Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn 

    Before my tears did drown it. 

      Is the year only lost to me? 

          Have I no bays to crown it, 

No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted? 

                  All wasted? 

Not so, my heart; but there is fruit, 

            And thou hast hands. 

Recover all thy sigh-blown age 

On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute 

Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage, 

             Thy rope of sands, 

Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee 

Good cable, to enforce and draw, 

          And be thy law, 

While thou didst wink and wouldst not see. 

          Away! take heed; 

          I will abroad. 

Call in thy death’s-head there; tie up thy fears; 

          He that forbears 

         To suit and serve his need 

          Deserves his load.” 

But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild 

          At every word, 

Methought I heard one calling, Child! 

          And I replied My Lord. 


Music: God’s Calling – George Melendez

I wonder if George Herbert could have appreciated this rap song😀

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

Extraordinary!

January 10, 2022
Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time


Introduction to “Extraordinary” Time


Today, we freshly begin a new cycle in our spiritual lives - the liturgical season of Ordinary Time 2022.
It is a perfect moment to wake ourselves to the truth that nothing is “ordinary” about being alive in God.
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!

So let’s decide not to get used to:
  • to waking up in the morning
  • to the people in our lives
  • to the work we have to do
Each one of these “extraordinary” gifts holds a particular secret for us to be enriched by God’s lavish mercy and love. May we never fail to appreciate that every moment is a new invitation to love.

Our daily scriptural prayer offers us a good way to unwrap these gifts by drawing on the revelation of God.

For this “Ordinary Time 2022”, I hope to 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 these extraordinary gifts revealed in our readings:

Love – Welcome – Gratitude


On this first “ordinary” Monday, we begin a month of readings from the Books of Samuel. These are wonderful stories with memorable characters and life-changing choices!

In our first reading today, we meet Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel. Other than in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel, she is never again mentioned in the Bible. Yet she is also considered to be a prophet, and her song of thanksgiving a foreshadowing of the Magnificat.

In today’s reading, Hannah is given “a double portion” of good because she is so loved by her husband.

When the day came for Elkanah to offer sacrifice, he used to give a portion each to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters, but a double portion to Hannah because he loved her, though the LORD had made her barren.

1 Samuel 1:4-5

Extraordinary love!


In our Gospel, Jesus invites the curious disciples to share his life, just as He invites us:

Jesus said to them,“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Mark 1: 14

Extraordinary welcome!


And our beautiful Responsorial Psalm offers us a way to pray our thanks for these immeasurable gifts:

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

Psalm 116: 12-13

Extraordinary gratitude!


Through our scripture-nourished prayer, may we open the gifts of extraordinary love, extraordinary welcome, and extraordinary gratitude wrapped in our own ordinary lives this day.


Poetry: NO ONE KNOWS HIS NAME – Francis of Assisi (The “extraordinary” often may be hidden from us!)

No one knows his name
— a man who lives on the streets
and walks around in rags.
Once I saw that man in a dream.
He and God were constructing
an extraordinary temple.

Music: Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it “music”, rather kind of a rap… but the words are perfect.

The Beloved One

January 9, 2022
The Baptism of the Lord

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, that moment in time when Christ entered into his ministry, announced by the thundering voice of Divine Infinity.

Maybe you’re not like me in this, but I must confess to sometimes letting the scriptures become very ordinary and pedantic. These passages have been read at me in church, sometimes well, often poorly, for seven decades. They have been plastered on billboards, bumper stickers and Church marquees for just as long. All that mundane exposure has demystified some of the most amazing words ever written.


But just think about what today’s Gospel describes.

Think about the greatest prophet of both the Old and New Testament standing waist-deep in the Jordan, eyes locked on Christ.

Think about Jesus, perfectly communed with the Father, walking slowly past the bird-filled trees and bushes to a moment that had been waiting for Him since all eternity. Did not those works of the Creator’s hands sing in worship as he passed?

Think about the pulsing sky already filled with the Creator’s waiting breath, ready to burst with the proclamation of the Son – this Son who said “Yes” to the greatest act of love in history!

For a few moments this morning, let yourself be there. Be filled with nature’s orchestra. Be filled with the pulsing colors of God’s astonishing revelation. Be filled with the Baptist’s profound reverence. Be filled with Christ’s omnipotent freedom and joy.

Let us enter with gratitude and celebration into the Baptism of Jesus!

The Baptism Of Jesus is a painting by Jeff Haynie For purchase, see:https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-baptism-of-jesus-jeff-haynie.html

Poetry: Jesus’ Baptism – Malcolm Guite

Beginning here we glimpse the Three-in-one;
The river runs, the clouds are torn apart,
The Father speaks, the Spirit and the Son
Reveal to us the single loving heart
That beats behind the being of all things
And calls and keeps and kindles us to light.
The dove descends, the spirit soars and sings
‘You are belovèd, you are my delight!’

In that quick light and life, as water spills
And streams around the Man like quickening rain,
The voice that made the universe reveals
The God in Man who makes it new again.
He calls us too, to step into that river
To die and rise and live and love forever.


Music: Jesus the Lord – Roc O’Connor

Refrain:
Jesus, Jesus
Let all creation bend the knee to the Lord.

  1. In Him we live, we move and have our being;
    In Him the Christ, In Him the King!
    Jesus the Lord.
  2. Though Son, He did not cling to Godliness,
    But emptied Himself, became a slave!
    Jesus the Lord.
  3. He lived obediently His Father’s will
    Accepting His death, death on a cross!
    Jesus the Lord!

Joy Complete

January 8, 2022
Saturday after Epiphany

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us a theme of CONFIDENCE with a dash of JOY.

John begins with the reassuring verse:

From the Latin root meaning “to have full trust”, confidence is a rare and beautiful blessing in our lives. How many people or things are you able to trust that deeply? Are you blessed with a true confidant in your life?

John tells us that this is the kind of relationship we can and should have with God.

He says that when we pray with this confidence, we trust whatever answer we receive to bring us grace and life.


Behold the Lamb of God – William Hatherell, from wiki gallery

In our Gospel, John the Baptist’s followers are having a little trouble with their confidence. They are unsettled by the appearance and rising popularity of Jesus. John says to trust what is happening. He had already told them that a greater One would come after him.

John’s ultimate response is worth repeating in prayer, “So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.”

When Christ shines through us
without hindrance of our pride or fears,
how complete our joy will be,
how profoundly rooted our confidence!

Poetry: JOHN THE BAPTIST: THE PASSOVER (JOHN 1:35–39) by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

For years he’d preached the coming was at hand.
Now John saw Jesus walking on the strand.
“Behold the Lamb of God!” he called, and sent
his own disciples hurrying. They went,
filling Jesus’ footprints in the sand
faster than the water could. John stayed and poured
the river on the people and passed them over to his Lord.

Zimmerman, Irene. Incarnation (p. 42). Cowley Publications. Kindle Edition.

Music: Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring – J.S. Bach (interpreted by Daniel Kobialka)

With Open Arms

Friday, January 7, 2022
Friday after Epiphany

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, John and Jesus continue to teach us.

In our first reading, we hear John preaching to a community that has become confused. Some have begun to doubt and to teach a watered-down version of Christ and the Gospel.

John convinces his community, and us, that we are invited into God’s own life through Baptism, the Paschal-Eucharistic Mystery, and through the Holy Spirit. This is the truth of Jesus Christ which we embrace by a faithful life.

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood. 
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth. 
So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood, 
and the three are of one accord. 

1 John 5:6

In our Gospel, Jesus shows us how to live that faithful life – through loving, generous service such as he models.

Jesus cleans the leper, Mosaic detail, 12thC,
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

A pitiable leper interrupts Jesus on his journey to ask for help. People like this man were scorned, feared, and isolated. Their leprosy impoverished them, making them annoying beggars. Their cries usually met with indifference at best and banishment at worst.

But when this leper poses his proposal to Jesus – “If you want to, you can heal me.” — Jesus gives the spontaneous answer of a true, merciful heart: “Of course I want to!” He responds with open arms and open heart.

Greek rendering of phrase “Of course I do!”

There is no annoyance, no suggestion that other concerns are more important. There is just the confirmation that – Yes- this is the purpose of my life: to heal, love, show mercy toward whatever suffering is in my power to touch. There is just the clear message that “You, too, poor broken leper, are Beloved of God.”

What an example and call Jesus gives us today! We are commissioned to continue this merciful touch of Christ along the path of our own lives. When circumstances offer us the opportunity to be Mercy for another, may we too respond with enthusiasm, “Of course I want to!” May we have the eyes to see through any “leprosy” to find the Beloved of God.


Prose: Mother Teresa – from In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Seeking the face of God
in everything, everyone, all the time,
and his hand in every happening;
This is what it means to be contemplative
in the heart of the world.
Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus,
especially in the lowly appearance of bread,
and in the distressing disguise of the poor.

Music: Compassion Hymn – Kristyn and Keith Getty

Lovers or Liars

January 6, 2022
Thursday after Epiphany

I know: the title sounds like a new TV series, doesn’t it?
But it’s not. It’s a story as old as time!


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, John talks about liars. He made me really think.

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

When I was a kid going to weekly Saturday night confession (yes, remember a lot of us did that!) I really had to scrape to get a decent pile of sins. I mean, honestly, how much evil can one eight-year-old generate in a week?

  • But lying was always a good fallback to report on. You know the deal:
  • I told my teacher that I forgot my homework when I really hadn’t done it.
  • I told Petey Nicolo I could beat him up when I knew I couldn’t.
  • I told Chickie Schmidt I could ride a big bike like hers when I had actually just fallen on my face off a smaller one.
  • I told Sister I wasn’t smoking in the girls’ room when my very own cousin Joanie threw me under the bus!

As you can see, I was your normal childhood compulsive liar – pretending to be and do lots of things I only wished I could be or do. But that’s just part of growing up. Like most people, I got over it when I began to realize the power and necessity of growing confidently into one’s true self.


People depend on us to be who we really are, to be the real deal. The value of our work and contributions to the world hinges on this. The depth and endurance of our relationships rest on such transparency and authenticity. Even our ability to love ourselves is rooted in honest self-awareness.


So how do we deepen in that kind of truthfulness, especially in a modern culture that so often abuses it? John tells us that love is the way:

Beloved, we love God because
God first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates their brother or sister , they are liars;
for whoever does not love the one they can see
cannot love God whom they have not seen.
This is the commandment we have from God:
Whoever loves God must also love their sister and brother.

1 John 4:19-21

Friends, we live in a culture drowning in lies. Some have come to believe that unless one lies, one cannot compete. Businesses lie to sell untested or worthless commodities. Manufacturers veil the danger of their drugs, tobacco and vaping products. Politicians lie to condemn their opponents and excuse themselves. Leaders lie to justify war. And criminals lie to hide their crimes.

These liars may never even consider that their tangled lives are related to the scriptures. But every one of these deceptions is fueled by a failure in reverence and love for our sisters and brothers, by a failure in courage to be responsible for and love one another.

We lie because we think our truth is not enough.
John tells us differently.
Our awesome Truth is that we all are God’s children!
And that is not only enough–it is EVERYTHING!


Our reading closes today with these words, so critical to the rebuilding of a truthful world:

In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey the commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep the commandments.
These are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

1 John 5:2-4

Let’s pray for one another’s courage, dear Friends,
to be and demand the Truth that Love requires.

Prose: from “Man’s Universe” by Rabindranath Tagore

On the surface of our being 
we have the ever-changing phases of the individual self,
but in the depth there dwells
the Eternal Spirit of human unity beyond our direct knowledge.
It very often contradicts the trivialities of our daily life
and upsets the arrangements made for securing our personal exclusiveness
behind the walls of individual habits and superficial conventions.
It inspires in us works that are the expressions of a Universal Spirit;
it invokes unexpectedly in the midst of a self-centered life a supreme sacrifice.
At its call, we hasten to dedicate our lives to the cause of truth and beauty,
to unrewarded service of others.

Music: True Heart – Oak Ridge Boys

Often, I use a popular song for prayer, allowing its words to speak to God for me.
You might like to try it with this song. No doubt intended as a human love song, it can be a divine love song too – and it’s sure a good wake up prayer 🙂

Making money they can hide away.
They never know what they’re working for.
All they think about is making more.
And every time the world spins round
There’s a few more hearts that can’t be found
‘Cause they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
Some people spend day and night
Trying to love everybody in sight
They never know what love is for
All they think about is keeping the score.
And every time the world spins round
There’s a few more hearts that can’t be found
‘Cause they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
Your true heart.
No they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.

Who Would I Be?

January 5, 2022
Wednesday after the Epiphany
Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have a few references to fear — and to its perfect antidote, Love.

John continues to instruct us in prose that stuns us with its sacred clarity:

There is no fear in love,
but perfect love drives out fear
because fear has to do with punishment,
and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

In our Gospel, we meet some pretty fearful disciples. First of all, they are still spinning from the avalanche of loaves and fishes gushing forth from the perfect faith of Jesus.

Jesus Walks on Water- William Brassey Hole

Today, they are rowing a storm-tossed lake in the pitch of night. Enough to strike fear into even a crusty fisherman’s heart! But wait a minute! As if all these scary things are not enough, here comes a ghost across the threatening waves!

And how about Jesus in this passage? A little nonchalant, or what? 

About the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
He meant to pass by them.
But when they saw him walking on the sea,

they thought it was a ghost and cried out.

Jesus wasn’t worried about the waves.

Jesus, full of Love, and eternally perfected in the Creator’s Presence, has no need or place for fear. He lives in the accomplished wholeness of God where, as Julian of Norwich says, “All manner of things shall be well.”


Like me, you may not think about your fears very often. But when I read this line from Paula D’Arcy, I consider that there are all kinds of unrecognized fears inhibiting us:

Who would I be, 
and what power
would be expressed in my life, 

if I were not dominated by fear?

Paula D’Arcy

Fears. What are some that we may not recognize:

  • Fear of feeling unimportant, overlooked, naive.
  • Fear of failure, loss, death, loneliness, dependence.
  • Fear of looking foolish, of making a mistake
  • Fear of getting old, being sick, losing my comfort zone.
  • Fear of meaninglessness, unusefulness, of being held responsible?

Could we go on and on?

But what about the biggest fear – of being unloved, and maybe even unlovable.

Dear God, as we pray today, 
help us to grow into your amazing love for us. 
Help us to recognize the fears that limit our love,
to cast them out upon the choppy waters of our life
and to live in your perfect freedom and joy.

Music:  All Shall Be Well – Michelle Sherliza

The Miracle is Love

January 4, 2022
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are full of surprises for Jesus’s new followers and for us.  

Jesus begins to reveal what his Presence among us is all about. The message is this: I am here for the poor, hungry, sick and abandoned:

The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor
and to proclaim liberty to captives.

Luke 4:18

And Jesus wants us to be like him.


In our first reading, John makes that sound so simple:

Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:8

Someone might read that line and think, “OK! I can do that! I love lots of people and things. I know how to love.” 

But then our Gospel suggests that maybe we, like the disciples, have a lot to learn about how God loves. Mark shows us that Jesus is living a new kind of love.


Imagine the situation. John the Baptist has been murdered. The new disciples are returning from their first “apostolic gig”. They, and probably Jesus, are shocked, saddened and tired. Jesus recognizes this and tells them:

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 

Multiplication of the Loaves – Michael Wolgemut

But instead the hungry crowds followed them, their needs intruding on the deserved and desired solitude. The disciples sound a little annoyed in their practicality:

By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late. 
Dismiss them so that they can go 
to the surrounding farms and villages
and buy themselves something to eat.” 

Mark 6: 35-36

But when Jesus saw the crowd, his response was not annoyance or practicality.

When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd…

Mark 6:34

In the Greek translation, the word for “moved with pity” is “ἐσπλαγχνίσθη” (Esplanchnisthē) – “splancha”

“Splancha”, in my mind, says that the heart of Jesus ”rumbled with mercy”; that he was so shaken to his roots with compassion that he pulled heaven down in a miracle to feed these people who were hungry at every level of their being.

The crowds, and indeed the disciples, are surprised not just by the cataract of fish and bread. But they are even more deeply astounded at this astounding demonstration of how God loves – with impractical, unlimited, immediate, miraculous generosity!


The lesson for us? Just as the disciples were commissioned to distribute the basketsful of miracles, we are charged to carry God’s mercy in our time.

Through the grace of Baptism, we have it within us to be the agent of miracles – the power to let God love through us. As John encourages us:

Beloved, let us love one another,
    because love is of God;
    everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

1 John 4:7

Poetry: Miracles by Robert William Service

Each time that I switch on the light
A Miracle it seems to me
That I should rediscover sight
And banish dark so utterly.
One moment I am bleakly blind,
The next–exultant life I find.
Below the sable of the sky
My eyelids double darkness make.
Sleep is divine, yet oh how I
Am glad with wonder to awake!
To welcome, glimmery and wan
The mighty Miracle of Dawn.
For I’ve mad moments when I seem,
With all the marvel of a child,
To dwell within a world of dream,
To sober fact unreconciled.
Each simple act has struck me thus–
Incredibly miraculous.
When everything I see and do
So magical can seem to me,
How vain it is to seek the True,
The riddle of Reality . . .
So let me with joy lyrical
Proclaim all Life a Miracle.


Music: Beloved, Let Us Love One Another – a perky encouragement for your prayer 🙂

Begin Again…

January 3, 2022
Monday after Epiphany

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, in this week after the Epiphany, we continue with John’s inspirational readings. They are intended to deepen us in love, truth and simplicity.

And we also have several Gospels this week that take us with Jesus as he begins his public ministry.


Today’s Gospel opens with a tinge of sadness. Jesus has just heard that John had been arrested. Reality dawns on them both that theirs will be no easy missionary journey. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if these cousins could have teamed up, gone about preaching unhindered by the fears and bullying of the powerful?

But a free and easy story is not the one God chose to tell us, because our own stories are not always free and easy. Some, yes, more so than others. But all people suffer in some way and we all need a God who understands and shares that suffering.

So, “hearing that John had been arrested”, Jesus bravely begins. He goes to the Capernaum lakeshore where the common people gather to refresh themselves. He will find them hungry, confused, sinful, questioning, bereft, and battered. And he will begin by feeding and soothing them.


Where would Jesus begin with you? If you sat along that seashore in those first days, what would you lay before his tender mercy? Perhaps the need does not belong precisely to you, but to someone you love, someone who needs love in a harsh world.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Picture yourself there this morning. The sun begins to warm the salty edges of the sea. The crowd is large but quiet, as if they think themselves in church. Jesus looks out over all the gathered. But for one moment, his eyes meet yours, and that moment is enough to begin.


Poetry: To the Sea of Galilee – Benjamin Waugh (1839-1908)
(It’s not a great voice of literature, but I think this little poem is charming.)

O PEARL of seas! how fairly set, thou lovely Galilee!
Well may all waters of the world for beauty envy thee.

For more than beauty! On thy shores heaven’s purest feet have trod;
And in thy face, as now yon sun, was mirrored once my God.

He loved to walk with thee beside; He gazed into thy face; 5
Thy troubled moods He calmed for thee; thou seem’st His child of grace.

But yet why envy thee, fair sea, by Jesus favoured thus?
Far more than He hath favoured thee hath Jesus favoured us.

Not for thy waters Jesus came His precious work to do;
’Twas not to give thy troubles peace that Him from glory drew. 10

Thine was a brief, a passing joy, as transient as thy flowers;
Thy side He left, and went away—He never leaveth ours.

Yet, sea of seas, I envy thee, thou small, but greatest deep
For on thy bosom Jesus found the place where He might sleep.

His weary frame, His heavy heart were pillowed on thy breast. 15
As John on Him, so He on thee found place where He might rest.

Jesus, if thou, by work or wrong, should’st sad or weary be,
Come seek within my heart the place once found on Galilee.


Music: Lord, You Have Come to the Seashore