Where Does God Live?

January 27, 2022
Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we might take this question to our prayer: where does God dwell for me?

In our reading from Samuel, David had received an oracle (divine message) through the prophet Nathan. (see 2 Samuel 7:1-17) The essence of the three-way conversation is this: David is putting on the trappings of his kingship, including some fancy housing. He decides that God deserves a great house too and that David is going to build it. God says something like, “Hold up, David! — I’m the Divine Architect and Builder.” David is forcefully reminded that everything he has depends on God. In today’s passage, David humbly acknowledges all this while begging God to stay true to the promise of Israel’s prosperity:

Who am I, Lord GOD,
and who are the members of my house,
that you have brought me to this point?
Yet even this you see as too little, Lord GOD;
you have also spoken of the house of your servant
for a long time to come:
this too you have shown to man, Lord GOD

You have established for yourself your people Israel
as yours forever, and you, LORD, have become their God.
And now, LORD God, confirm for all time
the prophecy you have made
concerning your servant and his house,
and do as you have promised.

2 Samuel 7:18; 24-25

While these chapters tell us the great story of emerging kingship and messianic hope in the Judeo-Christian tradition, they also offer us some simpler thoughts for our prayer this morning.

Through our Baptism, we have been made temples of the Holy Spirit. We are made so by the grace and power of God so that we can reflect God’s Presence in our times. We are not all that different from David (except maybe we’re an uncrowned mini-version!)

It’s crucial to remember Who it is that built my “house” or “temple”.
I have not built a house for God.
God has built a house for me,
crafted from Baptismal Grace,
Confirmational Hope and
Eucharistic Love.

As God promised David, so God promises me, within the community of faith, to faithfully answer my prayer which might echo David’s:

Your servant now finds the courage to make this prayer to you.
And now, Lord GOD, you are God and your words are truth;
you have made this generous promise to your servant.
Do, then, bless the house of your servant
that it may be before you forever;
for you, Lord GOD, have promised,
and by your blessing the house of your servant
shall be blessed forever.”

2 Samuel 7:28-29

Poetry: Rabindranath Tagore

While God waits
for his temple
to be built of love,
men bring stones.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley

  1. I fall on my knees to the father of Jesus,
    The Lord who has shown us the glory of God.
  2. May he in his love give us strength for our living
    The strength of his spirit the glory of God.

Refrain
May Christ find a dwelling place of faith in our hearts.
May our lives be rooted in love, rooted in love.

  1. May grace and peace be yours in God our father
    and in his son (Refrain)
  2. I fall on my knees to the father of Jesus,
    The Lord who has shown us the glory of God (Refrain)

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!

The Heart’s Temple

November 19, 2021
Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with a passage from Chronicles as our Responsorial Psalm:

Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
    majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours.

1 Chronicles 29:11

This passage inclines us to worship God whose “temple” is all of Creation.


Both readings today speak about the “Temple”. After the victory of Judas Maccabeus, the Jewish people restore their physical Temple with exuberant celebration, recognizing it as a symbol of God’s Presence with them.


In today’s Gospel. Jesus also “restores” the Temple by driving out the merchants who have diverted the Temple’s purpose as representative of God’s Presence.


Our bodies too are temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians tells us:

Do you not know
that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

1 Corinthians 6:19

Through our Baptism into the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We are called to be transformed by this Indwelling. As in any relationship, this transformation is accomplished through transparency, communication, listening and acting on behalf of the Beloved.


Poetry: Go Not to the Temple – Tagore

Go not to the temple to put flowers upon the feet of God,
First fill your own house with the Fragrance of love…

Go not to the temple to light candles before the altar of God,
First remove the darkness of sin from your heart…

Go not to the temple to bow down your head in prayer,
First learn to bow in humility before your fellowmen…

Go not to the temple to pray on bended knees,
First bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden. ..

Go not to the temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins,
First forgive from your heart those who have sinned against you.


Music: In the Temple Garden – Aaron Kenny

A Free and Obedient Heart

October 20, 2021
Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy,  we pray with Psalm 124, a dramatic psalm stretched between early desperation and ultimate freedom.

In the psalmist’s prayer, Israel is called to realize that it has narrowly escaped from a mortal danger, never specified, but only alluded to in phrases such as:

  • would have swallowed us alive
  • fury was inflamed against us
  • waters have overwhelmed us
  • torrent swept over us
  • swept over by the raging waters
  • not leave us a prey to their teeth

This is some serious trouble! And because of this blessed escape, the community is called to a life of freely given service and praise.


In our readings, Paul and Jesus both instruct and challenge their listeners and us to a similar response for all the graces we have received – especially being rescued from sin in the life-saving waters of Baptism.

Paul wants us to understand that, through our Baptism, we are living in a whole new power for goodness and grace. The world may look the same as it did before we belonged to Christ, but it isn’t. 

To use a phrase from the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

If we see with the new eyes of grace, we will be able to respond to Jesus’s challenge:

Stay awake!
For you do not know
when the Son of Man will come.

Stay awake. See the world and life as they truly are  – places where God awaits us in every moment. This is the amazing power we have received through our Baptism!

So let’s open our hearts to listen lovingly to the sound of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That freed and obedient heart is precious to God, and is the catalyst to a transformed life!


Poetry: Song for Autumn – Mary Oliver

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

Music:  Speak, O Lord – Kristyn Getty

Matthew: Called By Name

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Matthew, the Apostle
by Anthony Van Dyke

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, we are blessed with a deeply  inspiring reading from Ephesians. 

… live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace…

Ephesians 4: 1-3

We are reminded that each of us is called in God according to our particular gifts. Paul encourages us to live “in a manner worthy of the call we have received” in our Baptism.

… grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

… some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ.

Ephesians 4: 7, 11-12

For most of us, it has been quite a while since we were washed in the waters of our Baptism. A lot of other waters have passed under the bridge since then. We may, or may not, have recognized and responded to our call, continually carried to us on those life waters.

Each moment, each choice, each act and decision asks us once again to choose Christ – over sin, over self, over meaninglessness. Each life opportunity calls us closer to Jesus, to the pattern of his Cross, to the witness of his Resurrection.


Matthew heard such a call as he sat, perhaps dulled by the unconscious disengagement of his life, by the failure to live with intention and openness to grace. As He passed by Matthew, Jesus reached into that ennui, calling Matthew to evangelize all the future generations by his Gospel.

Jesus calls us to be evangelists too – every moment, every day. Our “Yes” to our particular call writes its own Gospel, telling the Good News through our faith, hope and love.

Pope Francis says this:

Poetry: Isaiah 43:1-2 (Isaiah is actually my favorite poet!)

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Music: When You Call My Name ~ Brian Doerksen & Steve Mitchinson

Anointed

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 18, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Samuel anoints Saul King of Israel.

Then, from a flask he had with him, Samuel poured oil on Saul’s head;
he also kissed him, saying:
“The LORD anoints you commander over his heritage.
You are to govern the LORD’s people Israel,
and to save them from the grasp of their enemies.

1Sam10_1

Throughout Scripture, the act of anointing signifies being blessed, commissioned by grace. The sacred oil heals and strengthens the anointed to do the work of God.

We share in the grace of anointing through the sacraments – Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick. We may not think about the power these rituals give us to live our lives in the pattern of Christ. But it is an amazing power which creates saints out of ordinary human beings like you and me!


 

Caritas_Bruegel
Caritas, The Seven Acts of Mercy, pen and ink drawing by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559. Counter-clockwise from lower right: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, ransom the captive, bury the dead, shelter the stranger, comfort the sick, and clothe the naked

In a less formal way, we can anoint one another by our acts of generosity, honesty, justice and love. Think of the woman who anointed Jesus with nard from her alabaster jar. How that act strengthened him for the suffering he had to face!

There are so many chaffed and sore places in our world awaiting the oil of mercy!

works of Mercy

We can also “anoint” our own life by gratefully remembering God’s presence in our lives:  the blessings we have received, the challenges we have gracefully met, the love we have both given and received – all that strengthened us to do the work of God over our lifetime.

Music:  Holy, Anointed One – Vineyard Worship

Power Failure?

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter
June 3, 2019
Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Acts gives us a brief lesson on the difference between John’s and Jesus’ baptism. John’s is a baptism of repentance, cleansing and preparing the soul for Christ. 

Baptism in Jesus unites us with Christ through the power of the indwelling Spirit. It is a dynamic and life-changing transformation.

But we are often so unaware of its power within us!

Col3_1

We are like the disciples in today’s Gospel. They think that, because they understand Christ’s word,  they have it all together. But Jesus warns them:

Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived
when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.

The distractions of this world can distort and muffle our Baptismal call. Jesus is warning his disciples that it is not easy to live a truly Christian life. Jesus tells them and us to “take courage”, to open our hearts to his power in us. And our Gospel verse from Colossians shows us the way:

If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

We are to make the higher choice always:

  • mercy over harshness
  • justice over retribution
  • forgiveness over vengeance
  • honesty over pretense
  • love over indifference
  • service over selfishness

In this way, our Baptismal power will shine, strengthening not only us, but the world we touch.

Music: The Lord Bless You and Keep You – John Rutter 

Let pray this prayer for one another today, Beloveds. May God strengthen and uplift your hearts in the power of your Baptism.

A Worthy Life

Friday, October 26, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102618.cfm

Today, in Mercy, having blessed and reassured the Ephesian community of the power of their Baptism, Paul instructs them in how to live a Christian life. He says that their Baptism demands a life worthy of their call.

Eph 4_2 bear with

Do you feel called? In your daily life, do you recognize the demand to witness to a graced life in the face of a sometimes ungracious world?

Paul says that’s what it’s all about:

  • the humble, gentle, patient exercise of Christian love
  • the building of inclusive community through acts of peace
  • the embrace of one God Who claims all humanity as one people

Therefore, anything that suggests hate, aggression, pride or exclusion is not worthy of our Baptismal call.

I watched – or tried not to watch – a few political ads last night. I heard the vitriolic rhetoric before I could tap the mute button. I saw the news clip about the terrorizing of a particular party’s leaders. My heart keeps saying, “What has happened to us?”

And then I read Paul’s admonitions on Christian responsibility.

Even if our culture’s rampant hostility makes us sad and angry, we must respond to it with Christian courage and peace-building action. We must not become like those who stun us with their indifference to life, humanity, morality and truth. We must never make an appeal to religion as an excuse for loveless behavior.

In our Gospel, Jesus challenges his listeners in a similar way:

Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?

Our times will challenge our Christian character. Will we pass the test?

Music: one Bread, One Body – John Foley, SJ

Called like Matthew

Friday, September 21, 2018

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, on this feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, we are blessed with an inspiring reading from Ephesians. We are reminded that each of us is called in God according to our particular gifts. Paul encourages us to live “in a manner worthy of the call we have received” in our Baptism.

evangel Matthew

For most of us, it has been quite a while since we were washed in the waters of our Baptism. A lot of other waters have passed under the bridge since then. We may, or may not, have recognized and responded to our call, continually carried to us on those life waters.

Each moment, each choice, each act and decision asks us once again to choose Christ – over sin, over self, over meaninglessness. Each life opportunity calls us closer to Jesus, to the pattern of his Cross, to the witness of his Resurrection.

Matthew heard such a call as he sat, perhaps dulled by the unconscious disengagement of his life, by the failure to live with intention and openness to grace. As He passed by Matthew, Jesus reached into that ennui, calling Matthew to evangelize all the future generations by his Gospel.

Jesus calls us to be evangelists too – every moment, every day. Our “Yes” to our particular call writes its own Gospel, telling the Good News through our faith, hope and love.

Pope Francis says this:

The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

Music: When You Call My Name ~ Brian Doerksen & Steve Mitchinson