One Thing I Ask

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

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Today, in Mercy, both Jesus and Paul continue to instruct us on the Christian life. Paul, writing from a distance to his beloved Philippians, encourages them to hold fast to the teachings he gave them when he was with them. We can sense, in Paul’s tone, an awareness of his impending death. There is a “last advice” urgency in his words.

Ps27_one thing

The same is true of Jesus’s teaching in the Gospel. He is driving home the point that, with God, it must be all or nothing. We can’t be half-hearted, “sometimes” disciples.

His words fall hard on our sensibilities.

If anyone comes to me
without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.

Really? Hate? In a Gospel which is always Love, from a man who is himself Love, what can this really mean? 

For me, the passage says that we can let nothing hold us that would turn us from God – even if that might be as dear as beloved family. It means that our one core desire must be that of the Psalmist:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze
on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

What we love, cherish and choose should reveal God’s heart to us, not obscure it. If that’s not the case, we have some tough choices to make, just like Jesus’s listeners in today’s Gospel.

Music: One Thing I Ask, One Thing I Seek

A Thimbleful of Metaphors

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Today, in Mercy, our readings offer us two thoughts about communication. In the passage from Acts, Paul’s senior disciples Priscilla and Aquila need to work with a new young preacher Apollos to make sure he communicates the Word perfectly.

In the Gospel, John indicates that he has been communicating by metaphor, but that the post-Resurrection experience of the Holy Spirit will be clearer than metaphors.

Indeed, John’s writing is full of metaphor to the point that it can seem overwhelming – trying to press an infinite message into the thimble of our human minds. We need to read his Gospel not as we would read a newspaper, but as we would read a poem. This will open our minds to the suggested layers of meaning too big for human words. For example, Jesus was not really a shepherd. But the metaphor of “Good Shepherd” allows us to experience, in just two words, all Christ’s tender and protective love for His followers.

When reading John’s Gospel, it is good to savor it in thimblefuls, like a rich dessert.  Let its metaphorical sweetness sink in.


Song: Word of God Speak – Mercy Me