Her Morning

Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 18, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our scripture readings roll out before our prayer the long line of salvation history. It is a line that we can walk in wonder, winding from Isaiah’s prophecy, through the House of David, down to Joseph dreaming in the Nazarene night, and Mary fully waking to God in the Nazarene morning.

line

It is a story filled with words we love because, ever since our childhood, they have carried to us the fragrant scent of Christmas. These readings are the thrilling stuff of prophecies and dreams, all the more wonderful because we know them now fulfilled.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.

For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.

She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:20

O Emmanuel

This long wick of Promise, burning slowly through the biblical years, bursts into light with the birth of Jesus Christ, the Fire of God.

Through our faith, that Divine Light kindles us – we who now, through our Baptism, carry the sacred DNA of Jesus into our times.

On this final Sunday of Advent, when the world’s “crazy Xmas” tries to hijack our  souls, let us be very intentional about the true meaning of these days. Let us take the time to “go into our heart cave” and prepare for Jesus.


Poetry: And in Her Morning – Jessica Powers

The Virgin Mary cannot enter into
my soul for an indwelling. God alone
has sealed this land as secretly His own;
but being mother and implored, she comes
to stand along my eastern sky and be
a drift of sunrise over God and me.

God is a light and genitor of light.
Yet for our weakness and our punishment
He hides Himself in midnights that prevent
all save the least awarenesses of Him.
We strain with dimmed eyes inward and perceive
no stir of what we clamored to believe.
Yet I say: God (if one may jest with God),
Your hiding has not reckoned with Our Lady
who holds my east horizon and whose glow
lights up my inner landscape, high and low.
All my soul’s acres shine and shine with her!
You are discovered, God; awake, rise
out of the dark of Your Divine surprise!

Your own reflection has revealed Your place,
for she is utter light by Your own grace.
And in her light I find You hid within me,
and in her morning I can see Your Face. 

Music: Emmanuel – Tim Manion (Lyrics below)

Baby born in a stall.
Long ago now and hard to recall
Cold wind, darkness and sin,
your welcoming from us all.

 How can it be true?
A world grown so old now, how can it be new?
Sorrow’s end, God send,
born now for me and you

Emanuel, Emanuel
What are we that You have loved us so well?
A song on high, a Savior’s high, angel hosts rejoice
Thy glory to tell

 Lord, lead us to know.
You lay like a beggar, so humble, so low;
no place for Your head and straw for a bed,
the glory of God to show.

 Babe on mother’s knee,
child so soon to be nailed to a tree;
all praise, till the end of our days;
O Lord, You have set us free

Turn to Me

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
December 14, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121422.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, through the lyricism of Isaiah, God proclaims his majesty and omnipotence. But as awesome as that Power is, it descends over us in the gentlest form – justice and salvation like morning dew and springtime blossoms:

Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,
like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
let justice also spring up!
I, the LORD, have created this.

Isaiah 45:8

Our God invites us all into that gentle embrace, asking us to deepen our hearts in faith and worship:

Turn to me and be safe,
all you ends of the earth,
for I am God; there is no other!
By myself I swear,
uttering my just decree
and my unalterable word:
To me every knee shall bend;
by me every tongue shall swear,
Saying, “Only in the LORD
are just deeds and power.

Isaiah 45:22-24

Our Gospel is a repeat of this past Sunday’s, only this time told by Luke instead of Matthew. It again reminds us of what this just and gentle reign of God will look like:

“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Luke 7:22-23

Praying in these twilight days of Advent,
let’s ask to be drenched in gentle Justice
and life-giving Mercy
so that we may be living signs
of the One Who is to come on Christmas.

Poetry: Annunciation – Scott Cairns – a wonderful poet. Read about him here:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/scott-cairns

Deep within the clay, and O my people
very deep within the wholly earthen
compound of our kind arrives of one clear,
star-illumined evening a spark igniting
once again the tinder of our lately
banked noetic fire. She burns but she
is not consumed. The dew lights gently,
suffusing the pure fleece. The wall comes down.
And—do you feel the pulse?—we all become
the kindled kindred of a King whose birth
thereafter bears to all a bright nativity.


Music: Turn to Me – John Foley, SJ

O Constant Creator!

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
December 7, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120722.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103 which bursts with music even as we silently read it!

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless God’s holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all God’s benefits.

Psalm 103:1–2

Our psalm rests today between two Advent readings that pick up its melody of grace and mercy.

In our first reading, Isaiah has just finished praising the Creator in the magnificence of nature. Today’s verses continue that praise and awed wonderment. As we read, we can picture God, robed in glory, marching out the sun, moon, stars …

Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!

Isaiah 40:26

When we take the time to appreciate a sunrise or sunset, or to trace the constellations across the dark December sky, we are doing what Isaiah encourages his listeners to do – trusting our all-powerful God. If our Creator can hold the heaven’s together in eternal beauty, we can expect the same to be done for us who are the most cherished of God’s creatures.

Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.

Isaiah 40:28-29

In our Gospel, Jesus puts God’s abiding promise into a comforting invitation:

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

Matthew 11:28-30

As we continue our Advent journey with Isaiah and Jesus, maybe we might like to catch a sunset or sunrise … or go out and look up at the winter stars. Doing so, let’s give ourselves fully in faith to our Creator’s promise to be with us in every rising and setting of our lives. Let us act as people who fully hope and believe:

They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Poetry: Come – Christina Rossetti 

‘Come,’ Thou dost say to Angels,
To blessed Spirits, ‘Come’:
‘Come,’ to the lambs of Thine own flock,
Thy little ones, ‘Come home.’

‘Come,’ from the many-mansioned house
The gracious word is sent;
‘Come,’ from the ivory palaces
Unto the Penitent.

O Lord, restore us deaf and blind,
Unclose our lips though dumb:
Then say to us, ‘I will come with speed,’
And we will answer, ‘Come.’


Music: On Eagle’s Wings – Michael Joncas

The Holy Way

Monday of the Second Week of Advent
December 5, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah describes a beautiful hike through a desert turned verdant and lush. Usually that’s not the way we picture a desert, but the phenomenon is real.


A desert bloom is a climatic phenomenon that occurs in various deserts around the world. The phenomenon consists of the blossoming of a wide variety of flowers during early-mid spring in years when rainfall is unusually high. The blossoming occurs when the unusual level of rainfall reaches seeds and bulbs that have been in a latent or dormant state, and causes them to germinate and flower in early spring. It is accompanied by the proliferation of insects, birds and small species of lizards. (Wikipedia)

Bloom in Chilean Desert – photo by Javier Rubilar

Isaiah preached during tough times — real “desert” times for Israel. He uses the image of the luxuriant desert bloom to encourage his listeners that, despite their dire circumstances (the Assyrian occupation followed by the Babylonian captivity), there is hope.

But it is hard to hope and believe when you haven’t yet seen the flowers, right? Some of Isaiah’s audience may have seemed a little “weak kneed” about launching out on the journey when the horizon still looked pretty dry and lifeless.


    Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
        make firm the knees that are weak,
    Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
        Be strong, fear not!
    Here is your God,
        Who comes with vindication;
    With divine recompense
        God comes to save you.

Isaiah 35:3-4

I know I’ve felt weak-kneed at times, both literally and figuratively — those times when we are afraid to walk, to step forward or back, to move around or toward what we should. I’ll bet some of you have felt that way too.

At those times, we’re a little bit like the paralyzed man in today’s Gospel. We need courage, the help of good friends, and faith in God in order to stand up and walk on our own. Jesus wants to help us just like he helped this young man.

That you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
Jesus said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” 

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God. 

Luke 5:24-25

Advent invites us to journey
into deep faith and spiritual freedom,
to trust the desert for its flowers,
to believe that God lovingly wills
our vigor and wholeness.
 

The LORD himself will give his benefits;
    our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
    and salvation, along the way of his steps.

Today’s Psalm 85: 13-14

Poetry: I Walked in a Desert – Stephen Crane

I walked in a desert.
And I cried,
“Ah, God, take me from this place!”
A voice said, “It is no desert.”
I cried, “Well, But —
The sand, the heat, the vacant horizon.”
A voice said, “It is no desert.”

Music: Desert Flower – Biljana Obradovic Bixy

No More Will You Weep

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Saturday of the First Week of Advent
December 3, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 147 coming after the consoling passage from Isaiah:

O my people,
no more will you weep;
I will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as I hear you, I will answer.

Isaiah 30:19

Our readings today assure us that God sees and cares about our suffering. Like a mother who sings to a crying child, God wants to comfort us.

God heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
God tells the number of the stars;
calling each by name.

Psalm 147:3-4

God’s lullaby is Jesus Christ. In Jesus, our Creator sings over us the melody of Infinite Love and Mercy. All we need do is calm ourselves and listen. 

Jesus is the Divine Song. 
He sings God’s Mercy
over all who suffer.

At the sight of the crowds, 
Jesus’s heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned.

Matthew 9:36

All of us, at some time in our lives, stand amidst the troubled crowd. Our friends and family members too stand there at times.

Today, as we pray Psalm 147, let us place all our troubles, and theirs, — all of the world’s troubles — into the loving embrace of God who sings the lullaby of Jesus over us. Let us beg for all who are hurting to be cradled in infinite grace, resilient hope, holy courage and lavish mercy.


Poetry: from Rumi

Every midwife knows
that not until a mother's womb
softens from the pain of labour
will a way unfold
and the infant find that opening to be born.
 
Oh friend! 
There is treasure in your heart, 
it is heavy with child.

Listen.

All the awakened ones, 
like trusted midwives are saying, 
'welcome this pain.'
It opens the dark passage of Grace.

Music: Quietly – Jay Stocker

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Imagine!

Monday of the First Week of Advent
November 28, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah teaches us how to imagine with the power of faith.

We’ve probably all done this, at least in small ways. It’s a mechanism for getting through some of the tougher spots in our lives. For example, when I have an unpleasant dental procedure, I calm myself by imagining the pizza I will pick up on the way home. I even envision a specific time when the procedure will be over and I’ll be in line at the pizzeria.


Isaiah is coaching us in the same coping mechanisms, but on a much grander scale. 

On that day,
The branch of the LORD will be luster and glory,
and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor
for the survivors of Israel.
He who remains in Zion
and he who is left in Jerusalem
Will be called holy:
every one marked down for life in Jerusalem.

During his lifetime, Isaiah lived in a war torn land where the poor and the vulnerable were particularly threatened. These daily anxieties challenged their faith and eroded their confidence in God. Their intent to build and participate in a faithful community suffered because they could not see beyond their pain.

Isaiah tells them that a better day is coming. He invites Israel to stretch their faith, to trust in God’s promise, and to believe that God abides with them and will deliver them to glory.

Then will the LORD create,
over the whole site of Mount Zion
and over her place of assembly,
A smoking cloud by day
and a light of flaming fire by night.
For over all, the LORD’s glory will be shelter and protection:
shade from the parching heat of day,
refuge and cover from storm and rain.


Isaiah is asking a lot of these bereft people. It is really hard to live in the Light when there is nothing around you but darkness. But it is possible to do so by the power of faith.


In our Gospel, Jesus meets a man who has that kind of powerful faith. When Jesus offers to come cure the man’s paralyzed servant, the man says there is no need to come. He already trusts that God is with that servant and will bring him to wholeness.

Hearing the man, Jesus was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. 
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Wow! Wouldn’t it be great to amaze Jesus with our faith!

Indeed, as we pray today, Isaiah and Jesus may be asking us for the same kind of faith. There is a lot of pain and darkness in the larger world we share, and in many of our individual worlds. As we make our Advent journey, God asks us to live in a way that does not ignore the gloom, but still sees through it to trust the Light – a faith that proclaims God is already with us, bringing us to wholeness.


Come and save us, LORD our God;
let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Poetry: To Imagination – Emily Brontë

When weary with the long day's care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While thou canst speak with such a tone! 

So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.

What matters it, that, all around,
Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom's bound
We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days? 

Reason, indeed, may oft complain
For Nature's sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart, how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown: 

But, thou art ever there, to bring
The hovering vision back, and breathe
New glories o'er the blighted spring,
And call a lovelier Life from Death,
And whisper, with a voice divine,
Of real worlds, as bright as thine.

I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet, still, in evening's quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!

Music: Imagine – John Lennon

Alleluia: Who’s Coming to the Party?

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 21, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082122.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father, except through me.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we glimpse what the great gathering in heaven might be like.

The Kingdom of Heaven by Frank Bramley

Have you ever gotten an e-vite in your email? Perhaps an invitation to a gala event or a birthday party? All you need do to respond is to click a “Yes” or “ No” button. And then you can look to see who else has been invited and what response each has clicked. You can get a pretty clear picture of what the party will be like – chummy, snobby, noisy, elegant, boring, mind-blowing ….


Isaiah records a guest list for us of all who will be invited to God’s party. That “party” described in Isaiah 66 imagines a restored Jerusalem and a rebuilt Temple. It is an image of what Creation will look like when enveloped in God at the end times. It’s pretty cool!

They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD…

Isaiah’s community really needed to hear that encouraging vision because the Temple-less Jerusalem they were living in had been devastated by the Babylonian invasions. For the Israelites, the Temple and the Holy City modeled the Kingdom to come. They had a long way to go before their environment was restored to Isaiah’s predicted dimensions. Isaiah helps them journey through present reality for the sake of future hope.


In our second reading, Paul gives a similar kind of encouragement to Hebrew converts who were finding difficulties in the pursuit of their new Christian faith. They too had to learn to suffer through in order to realize their hope.

At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. 
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.


When questioned about heaven, Jesus says it’s not a piece of cake to get in. You have to “know somebody”, and that somebody is the God of your heart.

Jesus answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough. 

Jesus echoes Isaiah in describing the glorious mix of guests at the heavenly party:

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.

Christ Surrounded by Singing and Music – Hans Hemling

I know I want to be at that party. And we all want to see one another there, right?!

So let’s help each other:

  • get on our “horses, chariots, carts, mules, dromedaries” or any other assistance for our journey
  • strengthen our drooping hands to reach for righteousness
  • find the narrow gate and pass through it
  • finally recline at the table

Poetry: God – Khalil Gibran

In the ancient days, when the first quiver of speech came to my lips, I ascended the holy mountain and spoke unto God, saying, “Master, I am thy slave. Thy hidden will is my law and I shall obey thee for ever more.”

But God made no answer, and like a mighty tempest passed away.

And after a thousand years I ascended the holy mountain and again spoke unto God, saying, “Creator, I am thy creation. Out of clay hast thou fashioned me and to thee I owe mine all.”

And God made no answer, but like a thousand swift wings passed away.

And after a thousand years I climbed the holy mountain and spoke unto God again, saying, “Father, I am thy son. In pity and love thou hast given me birth, and through love and worship I shall inherit thy kingdom.”

And God made no answer, and like the mist that veils the distant hills he passed away.

And after a thousand years I climbed the sacred mountain and again spoke unto God, saying, “My God, my aim and my fulfilment; I am thy yesterday and thou are my tomorrow. I am thy root in the earth and thou art my flower in the sky, and together we grow before the face of the sun.”

Then God leaned over me, and in my ears whispered words of sweetness, and even as the sea that enfoldeth a brook that runneth down to her, he enfolded me.

And when I descended to the valleys and the plains God was there also.


Music: Paradise by Mehdi – a beautiful composition to put a little kick in your step on the way up the Mountain! 🙂

Alleluia: Shadows

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
July 15, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071522.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are woven through with themes of life and death, time and eternity. These are fundamental realities at the core of our lives. Yet they are so huge in scope that they elude our comprehension.

Photo by Rui Dias on Pexels.com
  • How often do we ask ourselves, “Where did the time, the day, the years go”?
  • Despite all our acts of faith, aren’t we still undone by death and bereavement in our lives?
  • When we try to imagine heaven, doesn’t the image slip through our efforts like a wet sunfish lost back to the sea?

In our first reading, Hezekiah faces the same kind of bewilderment. Informed that he is about to die, he laments:

“O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly
I conducted myself in your presence,
doing what was pleasing to you!”
And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Hezekiah’s pleading gains him another fifteen years. (Would that our prayers could so prevail!) His bonus is delivered accompanied by a sign:

This will be the sign for you from the LORD
that he will do what he has promised:
See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun
on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz
go back the ten steps it has advanced.


In our Gospel, Jesus doesn’t need bonuses or signs. Jesus himself is the embodiment of Life over death, Eternity over time. In today’s passage, the Pharisees try to judge and limit Jesus’s spiritual freedom by invoking the old law against him:

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath.
His disciples were hungry
and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.
When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him,
“See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.”


Jesus tells them clearly that he is the new law of mercy and love. He is beyond time, death, and the judgments of human law:

I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. 
If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
you would not have condemned these innocent men.
For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.

Let’s pray today with our God Who is greater than time, death or human judgments. Let us trust that God has power over any shadow that might darken our lives.


Poetry: The Shadow of Thy Wing – Susan Dickinson (Emily’s sister-in-law)

Weary of life's great mart, its dust and din,
Faint with its toiling, suffering with its sin,
In childlike faith my heart to Thee I bring.
For refuge in "the shadow of thy wing."

Like a worn bird of passage, left behind
Wounded, and sinking, by its faithless kind,
With flight unsteady, seeking needed rest,
I come for shelter to Thy faithful breast.

Like a proud ship, dismantled by the gale,
Her banners lost and rifted every sail,
In the deep waters to Thy love I cling,
And hasten to the refuge of Thy wing.

O Thou, thy people's comforter alway,
Their light in darkness, and their guide by day,
Their anchor 'mid the storm, their hope in calm,
Their joy in pain, their fortress in alarm!

We are all weak, Thy strength we humbly crave;
We are all lost, and Thou alone canst save;
A weary world, to Thy dear arm we cling,
And hope for all a refuge "'neath Thy wing."

- "Original Poetry." Springfield Daily Republican, March 1, 1862

Music: Cavatina’s “The Shadows” played by 2Cellos

Holy Week: Wednesday – Darker and Deeper

April 13, 2022
Wednesday of Holy Week

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the betrayal of Jesus continues, as does his mounting courage to endure its consequences.

In our first reading, the experience of the prophet Isaiah foreshadows that of Jesus. We can hear Jesus praying in Isaiah’s words:

The Lord GOD is my help,
            therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
            knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
            if anyone wishes to oppose me,
            let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
            Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
            who will prove me wrong?

Isaiah 50:7-8

We hear Christ’s transcendent openness to the Father’s accompaniment:

Morning after morning
God opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.


We hear Christ’s courage to face what life unfolds before him:

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.


We hear Christ’s utter commitment, despite suffering, to the Father’s Presence:

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.


As we pray with Jesus today, may we:

  • hear God’s purpose in our lives.
  • see grace unfold in all our circumstances
  • set our hearts, like flint, upon faith and trust in God

passover

As our Jewish sisters and brothers will begin the Passover celebration this Friday, their rich faith heritage inspires us always to find God in the journey, no matter where it leads us.

In the Gospel’s Passover moment, Jesus walks toward the painful experience of Gethsemane. He invites us to come and receive the reassuring blessing of his Father even as the night shadows fall.


Poetry: The Garden of Gethsemane – by Boris Pasternak who won the Nobel Prize for Literature after writing Dr. Zhivago

Indifferently, the glimmer of stars
Lit up the turning in the road.
The road went round the Mount of Olives,
Below it the Kedron flowed.

The meadow suddenly stopped half-way.
The Milky Way went on from there.
The grey and silver olive trees
Were trying to march into thin air.

There was a garden at the meadow’s end.
And leaving the disciples by the wall,
He said: ‘My soul is sorrowful unto death,
Tarry ye here, and watch with Me awhile.’

Without a struggle He renounced
Omnipotence and miracles
As if they had been borrowed things,
And now He was a mortal among mortals.

The night’s far reaches seemed a region
Of nothing and annihilation. All
The universe was uninhabited.
There was no life outside the garden wall.

And looking at those dark abysses,
Empty and endless, bottomless deeps,
He prayed the Father, in a bloody sweat,
To let this cup pass from His lips.

Assuaging mortal agony with prayer,
He left the garden. By the road he found
Disciples, overcome by drowsiness,
Asleep spreadeagled on the ground.

He wakened them: ‘The Lord has deemed you worthy
To live in My time. Is it worthiness
To sleep in the hour when the Son of Man
Must give Himself into the hands of sinners?’

And hardly had He spoken, when a mob
Of slaves, a ragged multitude, appeared
With torches, sowards, and Judas at their head
Shaping a traitor’s kiss behind his beard.

Peter with his sword resisted them
And severed one man’s ear. But then he heard
These words: ‘The sword is no solution.
Put up your blade, man, in its scabbard.

Could not My Father instantly send down
Legions of angels in one thunderous gust?
Before a hair of my head was touched,
My enemies would scatter like the dust.

But now the book of life has reached a page
Most precious and most holy. What the pen
Foretold in Scripture here must be fulfilled.
Let prophecy come to pass. Amen.

The course of centuries is like a parable
And, passing, can catch fire. Now, in the name
Of its dread majesty, I am content
To suffer and descend into the tomb.

I shall descend and on the third day rise,
And as the river rafts float into sight,
Towards My Judgement like a string of barges
The centuries will float out of the night.’


Music: I Come to the Garden Alone – Sean Clive 

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

He speaks, and the sound of his voice is so sweet
The birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He give to me
Within my heart is to ringing.

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

I stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me is falling.
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walk with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Lent: God Remembers

March 30, 2022
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us the deeply comforting image of God as a mother, vigilant and caring for us even in our unawareness.

In our reading from Isaiah, the Israelites recently have been freed from their long sojourn in Babylon and have returned to Jerusalem. It is a time of great joy, but also of reorientation and reflection. God, Who may have seemed to abandon them to captivity, is assuring them that is not so:

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!

Isaiah 49: 8-9

We too may have times when we think God isn’t paying attention to us, or to the world that seems to be falling apart around us. We may be tempted to think that Divine attention is turned to us only when we demand it by intense prayer of supplication.

In Isaiah 49, God – through a outlay of abundant promises, – tells us otherwise:

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:14-15

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us the same things in a little bit of a different way.

My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.

John 5: 17

When he says this, Jesus is in the midst of the recalcitrant, vengeful Pharisees who have placed their faith only in their own arrogance – who have come to depend only on their own wealth and power rather than on the mercy and love of God.

Jesus offers his own outlay of Divine promises, showing how he and God the Creator are One in their constant desire for each of us to share fully in the Divine Life, even to the point of taking flesh to redeem us:

For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life …

John 5: 26-29

We might ask in our prayer today to be deepened in our awareness of God’s constant, loving Presence in our lives. There is no moment or circumstance that doesn’t offer us an invitation to greater grace and holiness. But, unlike the Pharisees, we must open our hearts to trust God’s Presence in all things and to find that path to God’s heart.


In these final weeks of Lent, and in this particular passage from John, we see Jesus doing exactly what we must do. As Calvary began to loom unrelentingly on the horizon, Jesus could not have found it easy to accept the path unfolding before him. But he trusted. He knew the Father was with him. He believed that he walked toward Resurrection even though all he could see was a dark lonely hill.

May our Lenten prayer let us learn from Jesus.


Poetry: Forgetting by Joy Ladin

Zion says, “The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her baby, or disown the child of her womb? Though she might forget, I never could forget you.
—Isaiah 49:14–15

You never remember anything, do you?
How I formed you in your mother’s womb;
nursed you; bathed you; taught you to talk;

led you to springs of water?
I sang your name before you were born.
I’m singing your name now.

You’re clueless as an infant.
When I tell you to shout for joy,
you hear a bicycle, or a cat.

Sometimes, memories of me come back
like children you forgot you had:
a garden; a bride; an image of  your mother,

your best friend, your brother, or a cop, or snow, or afternoon.
The heavens shout; mountain becomes road;
gardenias burst into song.

Whose are these? you wonder.
Then you forget, and feel forgotten,
like an infant who falls asleep

at a mother’s breast
and wakes up hungry again.
Your mother might forget you, child,

but I never forget.
I’ve engraved your name
on the palms of my hands.

I show you trees, I lay you down in the grass,
I shower you with examples of my love—
sex and birds, librarians and life skills, emotions, sunlight, compassion.

Nothing connects.
Every dawn, every generation,
I have to teach you again:

this is water; this is darkness;
this is a body
fitting your description;

that’s a crush;
these are bodily functions;
this is an allergic reaction.

This is your anger.
This is mine.
This is me

reminding you to eat.
Turn off the stove.
Take your medication.

This is the realization
that I am yours and you are mine. This is you
forgetting.

Music: Will Never Forget You – Carey Landry