Psalm 118: Inside the Gate

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

December 3, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy,
we pray with Psalm 118
which describes the Lord’s strong city
and the gate which protects it.

Our opening passage from Isaiah exults in this Divine Strength, asking to be embraced  within its sacred space:

A strong city have we;
the Lord sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.

Isaiah 26: 1-2

Jesus, in our Gospel, tells us that inclusion in the sanctuary must be merited by those who understand that God’s Will is for justice over all Creation:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 7: 21

Thus we, longing to be among the included, we pray this Advent psalm:

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD’s;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.

Psalm 118: 19-21

As I meditate on these thoughts, our Motherhouse property offers many “icons” to reflect upon the concept of the “gate”. The entire campus is enclosed by various types of fencing or walls. There are four gates through which one may pass into the complex.

early photo of Motherhouse main gate , Montgomery County Historical Society. The open gate is barely visible against the small pine tree on the left of the opening.

I imagine that, when first installed, these great gates offered a more formidable enclosure than they do today. Only the wrought iron hinges remain of the main gate’s  double swing panels. Yet these, driven into imposing stone pillars, still suggest the firm purpose to create a sacred space.

You will notice the open gate just under the right side of the big tree

Inside the property, another wrought iron enclosure surrounds the community cemetery. This fence’s two gates are usually open, demonstrating that their purpose too is not security but rather sacred designation.

These venerable gates, rather than castle-like ramparts, are more like torii, those traditional Japanese gates found at the entrance or within a Shinto shrine where they symbolically mark the transition from the mundane to the sacred.

The famous torii at Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima, Japan

During Advent, we slowly pass through such a sacred symbolic gate, once again entering the holy mystery who is Jesus Christ. We pray to be transformed, not simply by the retelling of his story, but by the Living Grace he is for us in our own lives.

With today’s powerful readings, we pray to enter more deeply into that Mystery.


Poetry: Endless Time – Tagore

Time is endless in thy hands, my lord.
There is none to count thy minutes.
Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers.

Thou knowest how to wait.
Thy centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower.

We have no time to lose,
and having no time we must scramble for a chance.
We are too poor to be late.

And thus it is that time goes by
while I give it to every querulous person who claims it,
and thine altar is empty of all offerings to the last.

At the end of the day I hasten in fear lest thy gate be shut;
but I find that yet there is time.

Music: Huanqiutan Garden – Oliver Shanti 

Abundant Life

Fourth Sunday of Easter

May 3, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, Jesus makes a great offer!

ollie
Don’t we all want to live a free and joyful life —- to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Hasn’t this pandemic made us all pause and think about what that really means?

 

 


What if you saw a sign like this somewhere:

advert

We’d all run in to get that deal, right? Well, our Gospel today offers an even better deal … just with a few more strings.

Using the shepherd imagery with which they would be familiar, Jesus tells his followers:

I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

tulpis


So what is the “gate” we must pass through to gain this abundant life?

In our second reading, Peter shows us the answer. In all things, we are to live in pattern of Christ.

Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.
…. For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.


RG

Living like this, within the Love Who is Christ, we dwell in eternal life – even as we experience the exigencies of our earthly journey.

Let us pray today to grow in a faith like this, one that frees us to live in utter trust, freedom, and holy joy. Let us look into the eyes of God and ask to grow in childlike love and peace.

 

(Perhaps in your prayer today, as many of us are still living at a distance from the life we love, you might want to look at some of your favorite photos. Pray with the joy, delight and gratitude they give you on this day of “Abundant Life”.)


Music: Peter’s Canticle – today’s second reading set to music by John Michael Talbot.

Jesus has suffered for you
To comfort your life within his dying
Dying so that all might live
Bearing our wounds
So that we might be healed

Let all who seek the true path to peace
Simply come to follow in the footsteps of this man
Who laid down his life when threatened with hatred
And so he came to live in the blessings of love
And so he came to live forever