God’s Guts

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

September 12, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, we have one of the most beautiful yet demanding readings in the Bible – Colossians 3:12-17.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.

Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.


I remember our beloved Mother Mary Bernard recommending this passage to us when we were only novices – so unripe in our pursuit of spirituality. Since that treasured recommendation, I have prayed with this passage thousands of times. It never fails to reveal something new, deeper, and challenging.

A particularly pregnant verse is this:

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion…

Gosh, the way it’s translated there makes it sound like a Valentine, doesn’t it?  


But take a look at the Douay-Rheims Version, the translation popular before the Jerusalem Bible of the 1960s:

Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved,
the bowels of mercy…

The Greek word for “mercy” here is σπλάγχνα splagchnon or splancha. And it means “guts” – bowels. So there goes our Valentine! You wouldn’t want to get that picture on a greeting card!


What Paul is preaching is not a lovey-dovey sweet religiosity. He wants mercy, and all the accompanying virtues, to grab our guts and never let go until we love as radically as Jesus loves.

We all know what “splancha” feels like: 

  • It’s the way your heart twists with adrenaline when a truck runs the red light just hair in front of you.
  • It’s the way your stomach tosses when it’s your turn for your first public speaking foray.
  • It’s the way your throat catches when you have to speak the words of a beloved’s death.
  • It’s the tears that well up unbidden when you kiss your sleeping child.

Splancha is the place where we are tied to other human beings so deeply that it is visible only to God.

Jms Keenan copy

It is the place where our soul’s umbilical cord is knit with God’s womb, that sacred place where we are recreated again and again in the Holy Spirit by our acts of mercy and love for one another.

God wants us to have “splancha love” for every one of God’s Creatures. God wants us to make that love real in our acts of mercy and justice. Paul is telling us how to do it today.

Music: How He Loves Us – sung by Kim Walker Smith with Jesus Culture

This song was composed by John Mark McMillan. This beautiful video about his composition is a real witness story. I encourage you to take the time to watch it.

Happy Mercy Day!

Monday, September 24, 2018

       Readings: Click here for readings

Today, as the Mercy Family throughout the world celebrates Mercy Day, we praise and thank God for the call given to Venerable Catherine McAuley to respond to God’s grace by founding the Sisters of Mercy.

mercy2018

On September 24, 1827, Catherine used an unexpected inheritance to open a house for poor and homeless women in Dublin. It began with two, Catherine and Mary Ann Doyle – and that small, vibrant fire has lit the hearts of millions ever since.

Many of you, dear readers, carry that fire and will know Catherine’s story well. But some still unfamiliar with her life might want to explore this website:

https://www.mercyworld.org/catherine/introducing-catherine/

For those of us who treasure a share in Catherine’s call, today’s readings from Proverbs and Psalms offer a picture of what mercy in action looks like. Luke’s Gospel exhorts us that our Mercy light should be raised up to shine for all those seeking refuge from a darkness- whether it be poverty, sickness, ignorance or any kind of isolation or oppression.

To gain courage and energy for that shining, let us reach through time for Catherine’s hand, telling her how we share her dream for God’s Mercy for all Creation. Let us ask her to enliven us each morning with the same passion for justice, the same compassionate tenderness, the same welcoming heart by which she showed others the love of God.

Are there not moments when we are overwhelmed by the Mercy of God welling up within us and around us, flowing from good hearts over the world’s needs? We see and bless this grace in each other, dear Family, as we thank God this day to be called “Mercy”.

May each of your lives be richly blessed and marked by Mercy!


Today, I thought you might enjoy this powerful poem by Denise Levertov.
The music link is beneath it.
❤️ Happy and blessed Mercy Day to all.



To Live in the Mercy of God

To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees. How far the stems
rise, rise
before ribs of shelter
open!

To live in the mercy of God. The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of
stony wood beneath lenient
moss bed.

And awe suddenly
passing beyond itself. Becomes
a form of comfort.
Becomes the steady
air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.

To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest depths of their listening.

To float, upheld,
as salt water
would hold you,
once you dared.

To live in the mercy of God.
To feel vibrate the enraptured
waterfall flinging itself
unabating down and down
to clenched fists of rock.

Swiftness of plunge,
hour after year after century,
O or Ah
uninterrupted, voice
many-stranded.

To breathe
spray. The smoke of it.
Arcs
of steelwhite foam, glissades
of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—
rage or joy?

Thus, not mild, not temperate,
God’s love for the world. Vast
flood of mercy
flung on resistance.
———-

Music: Mercy ~ Matt Redman