Becoming Saints

Monday, November 1, 2021
Feast of All Saints

Synaxis of All Saints – Anonymous Russian icon

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 24, an exultant song of praise and celebration whose opening lines leave no doubt of God’s overarching Supremacy

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, 
the world and all who dwell therein.
For it is God who founded it upon the seas
and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

Psalm 24: 1-2

The psalmist then asks and answers the burning question of all spiritual seekers: who may come into the presence of this Omnipotent Being? Who may live in Eternal Love?

Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord,
and who can stand in the holy place of God?
Those who have clean hands and a pure heart, 
who have not pledged themselves to falsehood, 
nor sworn by what is a fraud.
They shall receive a blessing from the Lord
and a just reward from the God of their salvation.

Psalm 24: 3-5

It is these successful seekers whom we celebrate today,
the ones already embraced in everlasting glory.

As we consider their lives, we might ask the further question: how did they do it; how did they achieve holiness.

John, in our second reading, says the key to holiness is to honor the gift already given to each of us at our creation and confirmed in our Baptism:

Beloved:
See what love God has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know God.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like God
for we shall see God as God truly is.
Everyone who shares this hope seeks a heart purified in God.


We honor all the Saints today, especially the multitudes whose names are unknown to us. They are the ones who lived lives of Beatitude among us, as our Gospel teaches. May they help us to learn the lessons of:

  • a liberated spirit
  • an unpretentious persistance
  • a hopeful endurance
  • a thirst for righteousness
  • a merciful and pure heart
  • a gentle peace-making
  • and a courageous pursuit of justice

These are the keys that will lift up the gates of Heaven for us, allowing the Holy One to make us holy:

Lift up your heads, O gates;
lift them high, O everlasting doors;
and the One who reigns in glory shall come in.

Psalm 24:7

Poetry: In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being – Denise Levertov 

Birds afloat in air’s current,
sacred breath? No, not breath of God,
it seems, but God
the air enveloping the whole
globe of being.
It’s we who breathe, in, out, in, the sacred,
leaves astir, our wings
rising, ruffled—but only saints
take flight. We cower
in cliff-crevice or edge out gingerly
on branches close to the nest. The wind
marks the passage of holy ones riding
that ocean of air. Slowly their wake
reaches us, rocks us.
But storm or still,
numb or poised in attention,
we inhale, exhale, inhale,
encompassed, encompassed.

Music: two songs for the big feast🤗

Psalm 24: Lift up your heads, ye gates – Georg Friedrich Handel
Sung by the Gramophone Chorus – Ghana


Give Us Clean Hands – Charlie Hall

Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, July 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 37 which is widely interpreted as:

“a response to the problem of evil,
which the Old Testament often expresses as a question:
why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer?”

Wikipedia

It’s a question all of us struggle with, isn’t it?
And wouldn’t we manage things a lot differently
if we were in charge of the world?


Psalm 37 opens with this advice to help us deal with our consternation:

Do not be provoked by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.

Like grass they wither quickly;
like green plants they wilt away.

Psalm 37: 1-2

The psalmist continues to demonstrate that even though evil doers seem to prosper, their prosperity is short-lived. Only goodness endures and ultimately thrives.

Psalm 37 sounds very much like a parent teaching a child not to be distressed by the apparent success of the selfish and scheming. God is not fooled by evildoers so neither should we be.

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

But my Lord laughs at them,
seeing that their day is coming.

Psalm 37: 12-13

The advice is easily spoken but perhaps not so easily practiced. So the psalmist offers some tips on how to live a spiritually fruitful life:

  • Trust in the LORD and do good.
  • Find your delight in the LORD.
  • Commit your way to the Lord.
  • Be still before the LORD.
  • Refrain from anger; abandon wrath;
  • Do not be provoked; it brings only harm.
  • Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more.
  • Turn from evil and do good,
    that you may be settled forever.
  • Wait eagerly for the LORD,
    and keep the Lord’s way;

The psalm indicates the result of such goodness, conditions that sound very much like the Beatitudes:

  • You will be raised up to inherit the earth.
  • Yes, the poor will inherit the earth,
    will delight in great prosperity.
  • Better the meagerness of the righteous one
    than the plenty of the wicked.
  • The LORD will sustain the righteous.
  • The LORD knows the days of the blameless;
    their heritage lasts forever.
  • They will not be ashamed when times are bad;
    in days of famine they will be satisfied.
  • For those blessed by the Lord will inherit the earth,
    but those accursed will be cut off.

It’s hard to live a life like the one this psalm invites us to. (At least, I think it is!) It’s hard to have that much faith, especially when evil is smacking us right in the face. The psalmist acknowledges this difficulty but does so with a beautiful assurance:

The valiant one whose steps are guided by the LORD,
who will delight in God’s way,
may stumble, but will never fall,
for the Lord holds their hand.


Poetry: Give Me Your Hand – Rainer Maria Rilke

God speaks to each of us as we are made, 
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 horror. 
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: Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand – Alfred Street Baptist Church

Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Monday, June 7, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34, filled with lovely images assuring us of God’s abiding mercy. This mercy moves the psalmist to promise perpetual praise – that means “no matter what”!

I will bless the LORD at all times;
    praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
    the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Psalm 34:2-3

By telling about God’s loving intervention in our lives, the psalmist invites everyone to join in praise:

Glorify the LORD with me,
    let us together extol God’s name.
I sought the LORD who answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 34:4-5

I’m not so sure it’s an easy thing to rejoice in another’s blessing when we ourselves are feeling overlooked by God. But that’s the whole point of the psalm. It is WE who feel overlooked, not God who is overlooking. 

It is as if we have turned our back to a brilliant sun and complained how cloudy it is. The psalmist says, “Stop that … turn your self around.

Look to God that you may be radiant with joy,
    and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the suffering one called out, the LORD heard,
    and from all distress was saved. 

Psalm 34:6-7

Notice that they were not saved from suffering but from distress. Such salvation rests in the confidence that, even in suffering, we are never alone; that when we take refuge in God, palpable blessing ensues.

The angel of the LORD encamps
    around those who reverence God, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
    blessed the one who takes refuge in God’s embrace.

Psalm 34:8-9

Surely Psalm 34 calls us
to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes
which we can savor in today’s Gospel.

Poetry: Safe Harbor by Robert B. Shaw


Music: Two songs suggested themselves today. Here are both🤗 Enjoy!

Multiplied by needtobreathe
(notice the radiant diamonds)

Psalm 34 – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I sought the Lord
And He answered me
And delivered me
From every fear
Those who look on Him
Are radiant
They'll never be ashamed
They'll never be ashamed

This poor man cried
And the Lord heard me
And saved me from
My enemies
The Son of God
Surrounds His saints
He will deliver them
He will deliver them

Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Oh taste and see
That the Lord is good
Oh blessed is he
Who hides in Him
Oh fear the Lord
Oh all you saints
He'll give you everything
He'll give you everything

Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever

Let us bless the Lord
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise

Let us bless the Lord
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise

Let us bless the Lord
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise
Every day and night
Never ending praise
May our incense rise

Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Magnify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name together
Glorify the Lord with me
Come exalt His name forever
Oh taste and see
That the Lord is good
He'll give you everything
He'll give you everything

A Covenant of Love

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our reading from 1 Samuel tells the intriguing tale of David’s magnanimity toward Saul. Saul is enraged and jealous of David whom Samuel has anointed as king to replace Saul. David is continually in Saul’s crosshairs.

But one night, David stealthily enters Saul’s camp. Even though he has a chance to kill Saul, David spares his life out of respect for his kingship.

While it’s not exactly “love for his enemies”, David does demonstrate a largeness of spirit that foretells today’s Gospel. This gracious spirit demonstrates that David is in right relationship (covenant) with God.

Our Gospel is part of Jesus’s Great Sermon in which he restates and renews the covenant of right relationship. If our spirits are true to God, we will love as God loves. We are to be merciful as God is merciful.

Lk6_38 measure

This Law of Love is the essence of life in Christ. It is a profoundly challenging call.

How hard it must have been for David as he stood, spear in hand, over his sleeping enemy – over the one trying to kill him!

How hard it is for us not to be vengeful, retaliatory, and parsimonious when we feel threatened or exploited.

But we are called, in Christ, to the New Covenant of love. By that call, we are endowed with a right spirit.

Today, Jesus asks us to love, forgive, and judge all others as we ourselves would want to be treated. He asks us to live with a divinely magnanimous heart.

Let us pray for the strength to respond.

Music: O Mercy – Stu Garrard, Matt Maher and Audrey Assad

Radical Benediction

Monday, June 11, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we begin several weeks of readings from Matthew’s Gospel. In today’s passage, Jesus starts out by turning the world upside-down!

Blessed 6_11_18

In the earlier chapters of his Gospel, Matthew has set the tone for the announcement of Jesus’ message – a new reign of grace and glory. The crowds gather in great anticipation. Most are overwhelmed and beleaguered by life under Roman occupation. Many hope for a political Messiah who will deliver them from their current circumstances, returning to them the material control of their lives. 

Instead, Jesus announces that:

“The kingdom of God can only be received by empty hands. Jesus warns against
(a) worldly self-sufficiency: you trust yourself and your own resources and don’t need God
(b) religious self-sufficiency: you trust your religious attitude and moral life and don’t need Jesus.”
~ Michael H. Crosby, Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthew’s Vision for the Church in an Unjust World

We are so used to hearing the Beatitudes that they may have become tamed for us — lovely consolations to the downtrodden that things will eventually be OK. On the contrary, the Sermon on the Mount proclaims a shocking message to those gathered with Jesus — AND to us. The radical blessedness of life is to be found within our ordinary joys and sorrows, embraced humbly, faithfully and joyfully.  It is to be found in right-relationship with all Creation, not in any kind of dominance by one over another – political, economic, or personal.

The poor in spirit, the meek, the bereaved, the justice-seekers, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted: Jesus says these people are blessed – even FORTUNATE – because there are no barriers between them and the fullness of God. Power, prestige and possessions block us, perhaps even cripple us, from our shared immersion in God’s ever-present love and grace.

It is likely that many who gathered on that Galilean Hill didn’t want to hear Jesus’ astonishing message. Their myopic vision of prosperity was turned upside down. They were challenged to an unexpected, comfort-shattering, radical blessedness. Would they accept the challenge? Will we?

Music:  Blessings ~ Laura Story