Psalm 63: The Longing

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 30, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the magnificent Psalm 63 which captures the soul’s deep longing for God.

It is a longing that, once released in the heart, must be satisfied.


In our first reading, Jeremiah experiences it akin to an addiction, the power of it consuming his life:

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Jeremiah 20:9

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says not to resist the longing, but to let ourselves be consumed by it like a sacrificial offering:

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. 

Romans 12:1

Jesus, in our Gospel, is the One who surrenders himself fully to that holy longing. He calls us to imitate him:

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.


These are profound readings calling us a place that words cannot describe, a place where the Cross intersects with the truth of our lives. May we have the grace to hear and believe.


Poetry: The Longing – Rumi

There is a candle in your heart,
ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,
ready to be filled.

You feel it, don't you?
You feel the separation
from the Beloved.

Invite Love to quench you,
embrace the fire.

Remind those who tell you otherwise that 
Love
comes to you of its own accord, 
and the longing for it cannot be learned in any school.

Music: The Prayer – Montserrat Cabalé

Psalm 33:Love’s Design

Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

August 28, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33, a song of praise calling the people to rejoice in God’s justice and kindness.

In its attitude of trust and freedom, the Psalm might remind us of Robert Browning’s verse:

God’s in his heaven. All’s right with the world.

But neither in the psalmist’s time, nor in Browning’s, was everything really “all right” with the world. Things are never really “all right” with the world. There is always war, crime, hunger, disease, natural disasters, and a slew of other troubles brewing somewhere.

So how can the psalmist or any other preacher invite us to trust, believe, and rejoice like this?

Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.


Keywords in this verse give us a clue: those who are just and upright will see the pattern of God’s mercy which lies deeper than the troubles of this world. They will trust and be comforted by God’s transcendent faithfulness to us in all things. Their faith and joy in the face of suffering will confound the faithless.


Calling us to the full meaning of Christ’s sacrificial love, Paul reiterates this mysteriously contradictory truth in our first reading :

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

For Christians, the Cross is the ultimate symbol of this profound wisdom and strength. It is a mystery too deep for our understanding, but by faith we may slowly become immersed in its Truth.


The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, 
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 18

As we pray with Psalm 33 today, let us be aware of the cause of our joy – a holy joy deeply rooted in God, trusting God’s Will for our salvation in the pattern of Jesus Christ.


For upright is the word of the LORD,
and all God’s works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.


Poetry: Primary Wonder – Denise Levertov

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.
                                                        And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

Music: Your Cross Changes Everything – Matt Redman

Lent: A Closer Walk

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

February 27, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings confirm that a life patterned on Christ contradicts worldly definitions.

Dt.30_19 Chhose

Deuteronomy gives us stark, either-or, advice:

I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live,
by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice,
and holding fast to him.

It’s definitive, but we could probably do that, right? Choose life, love God, heed God’s voice, hold fast to God? Sounds OK, doesn’t it?


It’s when Jesus comes along that it sounds difficult. 

Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you choose life –

“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”


Jesus tells us, “Here’s the God you must love, one who

“suffers greatly, is rejected, and is killed.”


Jesus tells us, “Here’s what my voice says to you –

“What profit is there for you to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit yourself?”


Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you hold fast to me –

‘Take up your cross daily and follow me.”

mcA Cross


Some have huge crosses to carry in their lives – perhaps famine, enslavement, untended illness, homelessness, persecution, poverty. Those who carry such crosses are singularly loved by God who dwells with them.

But if we don’t have big, obvious crosses in our lives – if we are among those the world deems fortunate – how do we follow the crucified Jesus to find our way to eternal life?

How do we really CHOOSE LIFE?


cross icon WP

We need to get close to the ones God singularly loves. We need to walk beside them and lift some of their heavy crosses. We need to help their voices be heard, their needs be met, their rights be honored.

Not all of us can do this by direct service. But we can do it by our advocacy, our material contributions, and our articulated support for justice.

We need to make these choices for life all the time. But Lent is a great time to examine the vigor and commitment of our choices, a time to take a closer walk with our suffering Christ and ask him to inspire our courage.

Music:  Just a Closer Walk with Thee – Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson

Lay it Down for God

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091618.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our Sunday readings increase in dramatic tone.  The passage from Isaiah describes a Savior bent on his mission despite mounting resistance and expressed hatred.

Psalm 116 describes a person set upon by suffering and death threats, still trusting in the Lord’s saving grace.

In the Epistle, James says we must demonstrate our faith by our works — by putting our money where our mouth is.

Mk 8_34 lay down life

And in our Gospel, Jesus says we do this by following him, denying ourselves and taking up our cross.

This is heavy stuff. Jesus wants us to be like him — and it would be so much easier not to be!  It would be so much easier to think that our life is all about ourselves, and that we have no responsibility for Beloved Creation.

It would be so much easier not to give our lives to Christ to allow Him to bless the world through our love.

But if we wish to “save” our lives like this, we will — in the end — lose them for eternity.

Let us pray today for the grace to take our life and lay it down over the Cross of Christ.

In that laying down, to conform ourselves to the pattern of his love, to place the weight of our burdens and hopes on the crossbeam of his strength 

Let us ask for the strength to live 

  • for God
  • for others
  • for good in the world
  • and never for self when it injures or lessens others or our Sacred Home.

This is the way we will keep our lives in Christ.

Music: Take Up Your Cross – David Haas

This is the Mind of Jesus

Friday, September 14, 2018

     Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091418.cfm

Today, in Mercy, on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, our readings include the sublime Philippians Canticle.

Phil2_6 Cross

To me, this is the most beautiful passage in the Bible – so beautiful that nothing else needs to be said about it.

As we read it lovingly and prayerfully today, may we take all the suffering of the world to Christ’s outstretched arms – even our own small or large heartaches and longings.

Music: Philippians Canticle ~ John Michael Talbot

And if there be therefore any consolation
And if there be therefore any comfort in his love
And if there be therefore any fellowship in spirit
If any tender mercies and compassion

We will fulfill His joy
And we will be like-minded
We will fulfill His joy
We can dwell in one accord
And nothing will be done
Through striving or vainglory
We will esteem all others better than ourselves

This is the mind of Jesus
This is the mind of Our Lord
And if we follow Him
Then we must be like-minded
In all humility
We will offer up our love

Though in the form of God
He required no reputation
Though in the form of God
He required nothing but to serve
And in the form of God
He required only to be human
And worthy to receive
Required only to give

The Power of the Cross

Friday, August 30, 2018

     Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/083118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, in our first reading, Paul assures the Corinthians that his primary mission is preaching the cross of Jesus. This awesome calling required great grace because the message of the cross sounds like foolishness to the faithless heart.

1Cor1_17_ cross

Indeed, the cross is incomprehensible in human terms. How can agony and death bring us all eternal life? Why does the truth of the cross need to be rooted in my life if I am to be fully enfolded into Christ?

These questions can’t be answered in a catechism — or even on Google! These answers blossom in us in a wordless relationship with Jesus through prayer, loving sacrifice, and merciful tending of Creation.

A half century ago, when I first came to the Convent, we had a communal practice called “Three O’clock Prayer”. Every Friday at 3:00 PM, those Sisters not engaged in ministry gathered in chapel for this brief prayer to ponder Christ’s death. It was during that prayer, on November 22, 1963, that word came to us of President Kennedy’s assassination. It was a day we all desperately reached for the deep mystery of the cross.

On many Fridays over these decades, I have returned to this time of prayer, asking God to hold our crucified world in his resurrected arms. On this last day of August, we may want to think about such a prayer. Our world surely needs it.

Music: Jesus the Lord – John Foley, SJ & Roc O’Connor, SJ

Let this magnificent hymn take you into the depth of Christ’s heart.

Our Father

Thursday, June 21,2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings are a study in contrasts.  Our first reading from Sirach describes the fiery majesty of the prophet Elijah. Everything about Elijah was thunder and lightning.  He toppled kings and raised the dead, and generally cast a path of fire as he preached. At the end of his life, he passed into heaven in a chariot of flames.

The Gospel presents a Prophet of a gentler stripe – Jesus, who is teaching us how to pray.

Jesus says to pray simply, humbly, to ask for forgiveness, and freedom from temptation. He tells us to forgive others, avoid evil and be content with our daily bread.  No fiery chariots; no tumbling governments.  This gentle man will die in the agony of the cross.

No wonder those who hoped for a Messiah like Elijah were disappointed in Jesus.  No wonder we still struggle to understand the contradiction of the Cross.

However, Walter Brueggemann says this:  The crucifixion is

“the ultimate act of prophetic criticism
in which Jesus announces the end of a world of death…
and takes the death into his own person”.  

Still, the witness of Calvary would remain nothing but a contradiction without the transformative act of the Resurrection.

cross ressur

Through the combined witness of Good Friday and Easter, Jesus not only confronts the old order, he embraces and transforms it.  He takes to himself the same suffering and death that we all must face, but he shows us that it cannot destroy us. He proves that, ultimately, death has no power over those who believe in Him and in the Father Who has sent Him.

Indeed, the Our Father is a most powerful, prophetic prayer. It teaches us how to be in the presence of God even in the midst of our daily life. It shows us how to express our faith in God’s Kingdom even as we live in our earthly one.  It helps us to become a little more like gentle, powerful Jesus.

Music: Aramaic Our Father – in the orgs that Jesus likely used.

Follow Him

Friday, April 27, 2018:

Readings: Acts 13:26-33, Psalm 2; John 14:1-6

Today, in Mercy, Jesus delivers the comforting words, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Indeed, it does require an effort on our part not to worry about the many concerns that infringe on our peace. Jesus goes on to tell us that – in the long run -our life will be OK. There is already a place prepared for us in God’s heart. He then unambiguously tells us how to get there: “I am the Way.” Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Learn Him, follow Him – one step at a time. ( Couldn’t resist the song. 🤗)

Be Clothed in Humility

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Readings: 1 Peter 5:5-14; Psalm 89; Mark 16:15-20

Today, in Mercy, on this feast of St. Mark, we listen to Peter instruct the young Church in the way of Christlike leadership. Deep humility, born from a reverence for the mystery of the cross, empowers us to be true witnesses of the faith and to draw others into Christ’s love. As a student of Peter, Mark learned a first-hand account of Christ’s life, steeped in the mystery of life, death and Resurrection. Mark later shared that account with us in the gift of his Gospel.