Psalm 110: A Chasuble of Justice

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 18, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 110 where we are re-introduced to Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in Genesis 14.



Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
The LORD has sworn, and will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110: 3-4

And our two readings today show us Jesus, the one High Priest, through whom we are fully redeemed.

In the days when he was in the Flesh,
Jesus offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Hebrews 5: 7-9

It is so appropriate to consider the meaning of priesthood as we commemorate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. In the image of Christ, Dr. King wore a chasuble of justice for our time.

A priest is one :

  • who is set apart
  • who mediates the Divine
  • who bears witness
  • who ministers
  • who offers sacrifice
  • who transforms through prophetic hope

As a Catholic priest vests with the chasuble for Mass, this prayer is said:

Domine, qui dixisti:
Jugum meum suave est et onus meum leve:
fac, ut istud portare sic valeam,
quod consequar tuam gratiam.

Lord, you have said:
My yoke is sweet and my burden is light.
Grant that I may carry your yoke well
so as to obtain your grace.

Indeed, Martin Luther King “carried the yoke well”
to obtain the grace of justice for all of us.


Poetry: two poems in which the poet, Margaret Walker, uses the persona of Amos the Prophet to describe Martin Luther King. One poem is written before, and one after, Dr. King’s assassination.

Amos, 1963 – Margaret Walker – 1914-1997

Amos is a Shepherd of suffering sheep;
A pastor preaching in the depths of Alabama
Preaching social justice to the Southland
Preaching to the poor a new gospel of love
With the words of a god and the dreams of a man
Amos is our loving Shepherd of the sheep
Crying out to the stricken land
“You have sold the righteous for silver
And the poor for a pair of shoes.
My God is a mighty avenger
And He shall come with His rod in His hand.”
Preaching to the persecuted and the disinherited millions
Preaching love and justice to the solid southern land
Amos is a Prophet with a vision of brotherly love
With a vision and a dream of the red hills of Georgia
“When Justice shall roll down like water
And righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Amos is our Shepherd standing in the Shadow of our God
Tending his flocks all over the hills of Albany
And the seething streets of Selma and of bitter Birmingham.

Amos (Postscript, 1968)

From Montgomery to Memphis he marches
He stands on the threshold of tomorrow
He breaks the bars of iron and they remove the signs
He opens the gates of our prisons.
He speaks to the captive hearts of America
He bares raw their conscience
He is a man of peace for the people
Amos is a Prophet of the Lord
Amos speaks through Eternity
The glorious Word of the Lord!

Music: American Dream – Bobby Womack

Psalm 40: God’s Whisper

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 17, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 40, the prayer of one at home with God:

I delight to do your will, my God;
your law is in my inner being!

Psalm 40:9

We are reminded that we find this kind of peace by believing and listening to our experience:

Throughout our readings today, God leans over heaven’s edge to whisper into human experience.


Samuel’s Call by Joshua Reynolds

In our first reading, that whisper comes in a sacred call to a listening Samuel:

When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3: 9-10

In our second reading, Paul reminds us that the
Whispering Spirit is already resident within us:


Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, 
and that you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6: 19

In our Gospel, Jesus – the Word, the Divine Whisper – invites us to come to him, to see his power with us in our ordinary lives.

The two disciples said to Jesus,
“Rabbi, where do you live?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”

John 1: 39

Praying with Psalm 40 can turn our hearts
to listening for God’s voice
under and within our experiences. 

  • It can wake us up, as Samuel was awakened.
  • It can attune us to the melody deep within our hearts.
  • It can reiterate God’s invitation to live our lives so fully in the Beloved’s Presence that, even without a sound, we know each other’s thoughts.

Poetry: from Whispers of the Beloved by Rumi

Do you know what the music is saying?
“Come follow me and you will find the way.
Your mistakes can also lead you to the Truth.
When you ask, the answer will be given.”

Music: All Praise to Him – Sovereign Grace Music

Psalm 19: What Is Truth?

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, January 16, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, a hymn to the beauty of God’s Law.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
    refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
   giving wisdom to the simple.

Psalm 19: 8

Placed as it is in today’s liturgy, the psalm brings added emphasis to our exquisite first reading from Hebrews:

The Word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4: 12

LAW…WORD…TRUST…TRUTH…WISDOM…SPIRIT

These themes shout out to us from today’s readings. And they need to shout in order to be heard above the clamor of a culture that has so enfeebled “truth” that it can barely speak.

At the electoral confirmation hearings, after the Capitol insurrection, Mitt Romney bravely said, “The best way we could show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth”.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a novel idea in our fallacious political culture.

Praying Psalm 19 challenges me to recognize my role in reclaiming a mutually truthful, respectful, and reverently attentive society. It also summons me to demand the same from my political and religious leaders.


Poetry: two poems today

truth - Gwendolyn Brooks
And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?
Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?
Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?
Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.
The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.

And this one from a Franciscan friend and revered mentor in social justice – Marie Lucey, OSF

A Justice- Seeker’s Journey
In high school art class—and in life--
I stayed within the lines.
“Timid soul,” the teacher branded me.
In English class I stood—green girl
in more ways than uniform--
to argue with the wiser nun
that men were more intelligent than women.
(Forgive me, God, and sisters!)

How did I get from there—a lifetime ago--
to here?
Over time layers of knowing peeled away,
core truths revealed.
Cries of people suffering—oppression,
injustice, human cruelty,
and my own dark nights,
insisted that I stand up, speak up, act up,
kneel down, reach out, reach in,
march, be cuffed and fined,
and even jailed just once.
Neither brave nor timid
I try to follow Jesus
who walked outside the lines.

Music: The Trouble with Truth – Joan Baez

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
So hard to forget, so impossible for me to change
Every time I try to fight it
I know I’ll be left to blame.

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
And the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear
Ringing so right, deep down inside my ear.


And it’s everything I want
And it’s everything I fear
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear

It had ruined the taste of the sweetest lies
Burned through my best alibis
Every sin that I deny
Keeps hanging round my door
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it always begs for more

That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
And the trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest
I run and hide, but there’s always another test
And I know that it won’t let me be
‘Till I’ve given it my best
The trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest

Psalm 78: Don’t Forget

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 78, a call to learn from experience and to teach its lessons to our posterity.

What we have heard and know,
and what our parents have declared to us,
we will declare to the generation to come
The glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength.

Psalm 78: 3-4

And the teaching is this:

That they too may rise and declare to their progeny
that they should put their hope in God,
And not forget the deeds of God
but keep God’s commands.

Psalm 78: 6-7

Though stern, the message seems obvious and simple, right?

But the last verses of our psalm today reveal a more complex historical reality:

And not be like their fathers,
a generation wayward and rebellious,
A generation that kept not its heart steadfast
nor its spirit faithful toward God.

Psalm 78: 8

In later verses of Psalm 78, Israel’s rebellion finally becomes the last straw. God rejects Israel (the northern kingdom) and chooses the southern kingdom to carry on the Promise. It was BIG!

But they tested and rebelled against God Most High,
whose decrees they did not observe.
They turned disloyal, faithless like their ancestors;
they proved false like a slack bow.
They enraged God with their high places,
and with their idols provoking God to jealous anger.
God heard and grew angry;
rejecting Israel completely.

Psalm 78: 56-59

Praying with the psalm today, my soul still swirling in our country’s current events, I ask myself a few questions:

  • how is God speaking in our political reality
  • what “forgetfulness” are we called to recognize
  • what role does acknowledgement and repentance have in redeeming our integrity
  • what has our experience taught us that we must safeguard for the future
  • how can we unite as a faith community to respond to grace

This commentary by Tom Roberts, former editor of the National Catholic Reporter, enlightened my prayer. I found it disturbing, compelling, and necessary to think on these things. I pray for the courage and discipline to act on them.


Poem: excerpt from “ON THE PULSE OF MORNING” by Maya Angelou
Presidential Inauguration Ceremony, January 20, 1993.
(It is a long, powerful poem. I will post it in a second posting for those who would like to read it in full.)

A Rock, A River, A Tree
 Hosts to species long since departed,   
 Marked the mastodon,
 The dinosaur, who left dried tokens   
 Of their sojourn here
 On our planet floor,
 Any broad alarm of their hastening doom   
 Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
 

 But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,   
 Come, you may stand upon my
 Back and face your distant destiny,
 But seek no haven in my shadow,
 I will give you no hiding place down here.
 

 You, created only a little lower than
 The angels, have crouched too long in   
 The bruising darkness
 Have lain too long
 Facedown in ignorance,
 Your mouths spilling words
 Armed for slaughter.
 

 The Rock cries out to us today,   
 You may stand upon me,   
 But do not hide your face.
 

Music: Learn Your Lessons Well from Godspell

On the Pulse of Morning – Maya Angelou


 

 A Rock, A River, A Tree
 Hosts to species long since departed,
 Marked the mastodon.
 
 The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
 Of their sojourn here
 On our planet floor,
 Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
 Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
 
 But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
 Come, you may stand upon my
 Back and face your distant destiny,
 But seek no haven in my shadow.
 
 I will give you no hiding place down here.
 

 You, created only a little lower than
 The angels, have crouched too long in
 The bruising darkness,
 Have lain too long
 Face down in ignorance.
 
 Your mouths spilling words
 Armed for slaughter.
 
 The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand on me,
 But do not hide your face.
 
 Across the wall of the world,
 A River sings a beautiful song,
 It says come rest here by my side.
 
 Each of you a bordered country,
 Delicate and strangely made proud,
 Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
 
 Your armed struggles for profit
 Have left collars of waste upon
 My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
 
 Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
 If you will study war no more. Come,
 
 Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
 The Creator gave to me when I and the
 Tree and the rock were one.
 
 Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
 Brow and when you yet knew you still
 Knew nothing.
 
 The River sang and sings on.
 
 There is a true yearning to respond to
 The singing River and the wise Rock.
 

 So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
 The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
 The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
 The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
 The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
 The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
 They all hear
 The speaking of the Tree.
 
 They hear the the first and last of every Tree
 Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
 
 Plant yourself beside the River.
 
 Each of you, descendant of some passed
 On traveller, has been paid for.
 
 You, who gave me my first name, you
 Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
 Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
 Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
 Other seekers--desperate for gain,
 Starving for gold.
 
 You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot ...
 You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
 Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
 Praying for a dream.
 
 Here, root yourselves beside me.
 
 I am that Tree planted by the River,
 Which will not be moved.
 

 I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
 I am yours--your Passages have been paid.
 
 Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
 For this bright morning dawning for you.
 
 History, despite its wrenching pain,
 Cannot be unlived, but if faced
 With courage, need not be lived again.
 
 Lift up your eyes upon
 This day breaking for you.
 
 Give birth again
 To the dream.
 
 Women, children, men,
 Take it into the palms of your hands.
 
 Mold it into the shape of your most
 Private need. Sculpt it into
 The image of your most public self.
 Lift up your hearts
 Each new hour holds new chances
 For new beginnings.
 
 Do not be wedded forever
 To fear, yoked eternally
 To brutishness.
 
 The horizon leans forward,
 Offering you space to place new steps of change.
 Here, on the pulse of this fine day
 You may have the courage
 To look up and out and upon me, the
 Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
 
 No less to Midas than the mendicant.
 
 No less to you now than the mastodon then.
 
 Here on the pulse of this new day
 You may have the grace to look up and out
 And into your sister's eyes, and into
 Your brother's face, your country
 And say simply
 Very simply
 With hope
 Good morning.
 

Psalm 95: Tender Your Heart

Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

January 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 95. It’s a very popular psalm and we have prayed with it several times.

Today, Paul quotes it in his letter to the Hebrews, following up with this warning:

Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.

Hebrews 3:12

Our psalm suggests that God was pretty fed up with the hard-heartedness of the folks following Moses through the desert.

Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
    I said: “This people’s heart goes astray,
    they do not know my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my anger:
    “They shall never enter my rest.”

Psalm 95: 10-11

Praying with these thoughts, we might ask ourselves where our own hard-heartedness lies. Though some of my readers may be perfect 😉, I’m not – and there may be a few of you like me. I have been, and still am sometimes, a chilly heart, an indifferent heart, an arrogant heart, even a vengeful heart.

We are even, at times, resistant to God as God is revealed in our life challenges.

Our psalm invites us, as both Paul and the psalmist invited their people, to humbly trust God’s ability to soften our hearts – even through what we may perceive as a desert.

We are asked to yield to God and let God’s mysterious grace blossom in us.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
    let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For this is our God,
    and we are the people God shepherds and guides.

Psalm 95: 6-7

Poetry: Listen – Paul J. Willis

A lake lies all alone in its own shape. 
It’s not going anywhere. 
A lake can wait a long time 
for a hiker to come 
and camp on its shore. 
It will reflect the moonlight, 
give him a drink of pale silver. 
Toward dawn, the wind might ruffle 
it a little, and the water 
will have words with the granite. 
Once the hiker goes away 
through October meadows, 
the lake will sparkle by itself. 
You’ll never see it. There is
so much you will never see.

Music: Tender Hearted – Jeanne Cotter

Psalm 105: Wondrous Deeds

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 celebrating God’s covenanted faithfulness to us.

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke God’s name;
    make known among the nations God’s deeds.
Sing, sing God’s praise,
    proclaim all God’s wondrous deeds.
(because…) The Lord remembers the covenant for ever.

Psalm 105: 1-2, 8

We certainly can spend some time in prayer today remembering God’s faithfulness to us personally. A grateful review of our life journey can always offer new insights into God’s love and generosity.

But more specifically, our psalm calls us to plumb the two readings which it connects.

  • Hebrews reminds us that God’s love is so extreme that God took Flesh in Jesus to teach us, in terms we could understand, the degree of God’s love.
  • In Mark, we see the early expression of that love, as Jesus reveals his healing power to the wretchedly suffering crowds.

In these readings, we learn that God’s promise endures to each generation:

God remembers the covenant forever
    which was made binding for a thousand generations– 
Which was entered into with Abraham
    and by God’s oath to Isaac.

Psalm 105: 8

In Chronos Time, this enduring covenant was enfleshed in Jesus. It continues in Kairos Time through each person’s Baptism into Christ through the Holy Spirit.

In other words,
we are the agents of God’s covenant with the world. Our lives must enflesh God’s Mercy for our times.

In his letter to Titus, Paul puts this clearly:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, we were saved not because of righteous things we had done, but because of God’s mercy. God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by God’s grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  

Titus 3: 4-7

May the message of these readings free us,
inspire us, and impel us
to a grace-filled response.


Poetry: Grace by Jill Peláez Baumgartner

Is it the transparency
and lift of air?
Is it release
as when the pebble
flings out of the slingshot
or the tethered dog
suddenly is without lead?

Or is it more like standing
on a dark beach
at midnight,
the surf loud
with its own revolution,
the horizon invisible,
the entire world the threat
of rushing water?

No one who swims 
at night in the ocean
feels weightless
embracing armfuls of water
against the ballast
of the waves’ fight.

Swimming:
toward the shore lights
or out into the vast bed
of the sea's white fires?

Music: Confitemini Domino – Psalm 105 – Orlando di Lasso (first published in 1562)

Confitemini Domino et invocate nomen ejus,

annuntiate inter gentes opera ejus,

cantate ei et psallite ei.

Narrate omnia mirabilia ejus,

laudamini in nomine sancto ejus,

laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum.

Give glory to the Lord, and call upon his name,

declare his deeds among the Gentiles,

sing to him, yea sing praises to him.

Relate all his wondrous works,

Glory ye in his holy name,

let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

Psalm 8: What Are We?

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 8, a brief, beautiful, and highly personal hymn to an awesome Creator.

Charles Spurgeon, celebrated 19th century Baptist preacher, calls this psalm “the song of the Astronomer”, as gazing at the heavens inspires the psalmist to meditate on God’s creation and the human person’s place in it. 

The core of Psalm 8 asks a question:
What are we that you are mindful of us,
we humans that you care for us?

Psalm 8:5-6

Indeed, what are we, who are we? It is a question which each of us spends a lifetime answering.

If you were asked to introduce yourself to a total stranger, how would you begin?

  • With your name, expressing your unique identity?
  • Any group to which you belong?
  • Or where you’re from?
  • What you life work is?
  • Where you fit in society, to whom you are related?
  • How you have been defined by your accomplishments?

For example, might the self-introduction sound something like this:

Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely unintentional 🙂

Hi, I’m Mary Smith.
I’m a dentist, born and raised in Schenectady.
I wrote the book, “How Gumdrops Ruin Kid’s Teeth”.
You may have heard of my great-grandfather and his brother,
the cough drop magnates.


Psalm 8 suggests a whole other way of self-definition:

Hi, I’m Mary, a child of God, 
part of an infinite universe 
that spills from God’s creative love.
 
I am in awe of our Creator
who loves and cares for me,
who has ennobled me in grace.
I try to let all my actions give God praise.

I take seriously my role
in cherishing all Creation.
As I do this,
my own divinely-given nature is revealed
and made available to God 
for the transformation of the world.

I will sing of your majesty above the heavens
When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in plac
e.

What are we that you are mindful of us,
that you care for us?
Yet you have made us little less than angels
crowned us with glory and honor.


You have given us rule over the works of your hands, put all things at our feet:
O LORD, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!


Poetry (well really prose): from Hamlet by William Shakespeare 

Shakespeare uses Psalm 8 as his reference point for Hamlet’s monologue.
Hamlet is saying that although humans may appear to think and act “nobly” they are essentially “dust”. Hamlet is expressing his melancholy to his old friends over the difference between the best that men aspire to be, and how they actually behave; the great divide that depresses him. (Spark Notes)

I offer the passage to say that Hamlet has become disillusioned, lost his awareness of his own awesome identity in God. Don’t be like Hamlet.

Hamlet, played by Edwin Booth – c.1870 (source: wikipedia)
I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, 
forgone all custom of exercises, 
and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition 
that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; 
this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, 
this brave o'erhanging firmament, 
this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—
why, it appears no other thing to me 
than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. 
What a piece of work is a man! 
How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! 
In form and moving how express and admirable! 
In action how like an angel, 
in apprehension how like a god! 
The beauty of the world. 
The paragon of animals. 
And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? 
Man delights not me. 
No, nor woman neither, 
though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Music: Domine, Deus Noster (Psalm 8) by Marc-Antoine Charpentier 

Psalm 97: Ordinary?

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 11,2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 97 which reminds us that, as Jesus begins his earthly ministry, he is accompanied by the unseen powers of heaven.

The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
Let all his angels worship him.

Psalm 97: 6-7

The psalm is reflective of the glorious passage from our first reading describing the Divinity of Jesus:

The Son of God is…
the refulgence of God’s glory, 
the very imprint of God’s being,
who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins, 
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1: 3-4

These seem perfect readings to begin a season described as “Ordinary Time” because they remind us that the power of Jesus Christ is far from ordinary.

And our days do not feel like ordinary times, do they? They are both fraught with threat and charged with hope.

They are times belabored by pandemic struggle, political vitriol, climate dissolution, global strife and systemic oppression.

But they are also times bristling with breakthrough discovery, civic renewal, social consciousness, communal courage and spiritual awakening.


Just as in our Gospel on this first day of “Ordinary Time”, Jesus asks his disciples to “Come”, dream extraordinary dreams with him, so he asks us. 

He asks us to believe
that there are unseen angels attending us.
 
He asks us to remember that we, like him,
are made in the refulgent image of God.


He calls us, like Simon and Andrew, to believe
that our “ordinary time” is actually the “time of fulfillment”:

This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.

Mark 1:15

Poetry: Maya Angelou – Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage,
exiles from delight,
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Music: Ordinary Time – Marie Bellet

There will come a day for quiet kitchen mornings
Lunches with the girls, book clubs in the afternoon
There will come a day for chintz flowers on my sofa
Just the perfect lipstick, matching purse and shoes.

There will come a day without constant interruption
Confusing all my senses, my reason and my rhyme
But for now I trip on the backpacks in the hallway
Scrub the crayon from the walls that mark this ordinary time.

There will come a day for uneventful dinners
When no one drops their fork or spills their milk upon the floor
There will come a day, I’ll be wiser, I’ll be thinner
I will finish conversations before running out the door.

Well, isn’t that the way it is for all those happy women
Who smile at me from magazines there in the checkout line?
What about the tired, the simple and forgotten?
Blessed be the ordinary here in ordinary time.

He said “Who will feed my sheep?
Who will heed their cry?”
I said “I am vain and weak
But surely I will try.

You know everything
And You know that I’m
Just an ordinary woman 
here in ordinary time”.

There will come a day when everything is order
And I will be the queen of everything I see
But how my heart will leap to find one backpack in the hallway
With the promise of a face, and a story just for me.

So may I never yearn for those cocktail conversations
Clever observations made for fashionable minds
May I finally learn to be happy and have patience
With the constant changing rhythm of this ordinary time,
The constant changing rhythm of this ordinary time.

Psalm 29: Holy Splendor

The Baptism of the Lord

January 10, 2021
We celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. The Christmas season, which celebrates the revelation of God through Christ, closes with this liturgy. Jesus’ Baptism begins his public ministry.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 29 in which the psalmist invites the pray-ers to find the power of God in the storm.

One can picture a small group huddled onshore as thunder ripples across the sea. The psalmist says not to focus on the storm itself, but:

  • to see the Power Who creates it
  • to find more than meteorological meaning in the experience
  • to be soaked not only in rain, but in grace.

Give to the LORD, you children of God,
give to the LORD glory and might;
Give to the LORD the glory due God’s name.
Bow down before the LORD’s holy splendor!

Psalm 29: 1-2

The psalmist invites the community to be sanctified by nature’s manifestation of God’s power.


As I wrote earlier this week, “This short post-Epiphany season is all about “manifestation” – how Jesus begins to show us the face of God-become-flesh.” Today’s Baptism of Jesus marks the glorious culmination of these manifestations.

I have always loved this feast. I imagine it as a moment in time when everything changes – when the Timeless Trinity steps through our human perceptions to fully reveal Itself in light, color, and sound. It is a quantum moment when, time suspended, Omnipotence speaks.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
    the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
    the voice of the LORD is majestic.

Psalm 29: 3-4

In an earlier blog, I offer a reflection on these thoughts. It contains a beautiful picture which I received the artist’s permission to share. I hope you can take time to read it again.


Our lives, too, are filled with potential manifestations of God’s power, with invitations to be bathed in God’s grace. As we pray today, let us allow our psalm to lower the barriers that keep us from hearing God’s voice in our own experiences.


Poetry: God Speaks by Rainer Marie Rilke

God speaks to each of us as God makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.

Music: “Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam” BWV 684 – “Christ our Lord came to the Jordan”) is a hymn by Martin Luther written in 1541. It has been set in many musical compositions, including cantatas and chorale preludes by Johann Sebastian Bach

Organist: Cecilia Yae-Jin Lee, Seoul Catholic Singers (On Youtube, there are several more prestigious organists playing this piece on magnificent organs. But I thought this young woman was extremely impressive rendering it on a rather simple instrument.)

Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam
Nach seines Vaters Willen,
Von Sanct Johann’s die Taufe nahm,
Sein Werk und Amt zu ‘rfüllen.
Da wollt’ er stiften uns ein Bad,
Zu waschen uns von Sünden,
Ersäufen auch den bittern Tod
Durch sein selbst Blut und Wunden,
Es galt ein neues Leben.

Christ our Lord came to the Jordan
in accordance with his father’s will,
he received baptism from Saint John,
to fulfil his work and ministry.
By this he wanted to establish for us a bath
to wash us from our sins,
to drown also bitter death
through his own blood and wounds.
This meant a new life.