Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 107, a poem filled with images that hold secrets for our spiritual journey:

They who sailed the sea in ships,
    trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
    and God’s wonders in the abyss.

Psalm 107:23-24

Those who have the opportunity to see the ocean in its many moods will quickly understand the analogy. 

Life is an ocean, but we are not sailing it alone.

That’s what the Lord suggests to Job in our first reading, and what Jesus points out to the nervous disciples in our Gospel.

Psalm 107 tells us that when life distresses us we should do just what the disciples did:

They cried to the LORD in their distress;
    from their straits he rescued them,
God hushed the storm to a gentle breeze
    and the billows of the sea were stilled

Psalm 107: 28-29

It also suggests us that we can hope for this result:

They rejoiced that they were calmed,
    and  brought to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks fo the Lord’s kindness
    and  wondrous deeds to us all.

Psalm 107:30-31

The message of today’s readings for me is trust and hope
— in both calm and storm. Let’s pray for it.


Poetry: blessing of the boats – Lucille Clifton

                                    (at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that.


Music: Secret Ocean – Peter Kater

Psalm 147: Brokenhearted?

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, February 7, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 147 which invites us to:

Praise the LORD, for he is good;
    sing praise to our God, Who is gracious;
    Whom it is fitting to praise.

It is a psalm for the left-brained who, like Job in our first reading, might need some explanation about just why we should praise when life seems so unpraiseworthy at times!

Job spoke, saying:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
    Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
    a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery,
    and troubled nights have been allotted to me.

Job 7: 1-4

Job, like many of us when we suffer, feels crushed under life’s burdens. However, an extended reading of the Book of Job reveals that humility and repentance allow Job to “see God”, and to rediscover the richness and flavor of his life.

Calling us to the same kind of awareness, Psalm 147 presents a series of reasons for praising God, including God’s continual attention to the city of Jerusalem, to brokenhearted and injured individuals, to the cosmos, and to nature.

For me, the most moving of these reasons comes in verse 3:

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


This is a beautiful picture of our infinitely compassionate God who is able to recognize our broken-heartedness. 

This loving God, who knows the stars by name, knows us as well. We, like Job, begin to heal within the divine lullaby God patiently sings over our broken hearts.

Jesus is that Healing Song, the Word hummed over the world by the merciful Creator. In today’s Gospel, we see that Melody poured out over the suffering:

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Mark 1: 32-34

As we pray today,

let us hear God’s song of mercy
being sung over all Creation.
Let us rest our own brokenness
there in its compassionate chords.
Let us bring the world’s pain to our prayer.

Poetry: A Cure Of Souls by Denise Levertov

The pastor
of grief and dreams
guides his flock towards
the next field
with all his care.
He has heard
the bell tolling
but the sheep
are hungry and need
the grass, today and
every day. Beautiful
his patience, his long
shadow, the rippling
sound of the flocks moving
along the valley.

Music: God Heals My Broken Heart – Patty Felker

If Job were singing his sadness today, it might sound like this song.

The Gift of Years

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100718.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we read how Job’s elder years were blessed with peace and prosperity. We want this serenity and peace for all of our dear elders. They have traveled the road ahead of us, often showing us the way.

Job42_12

Today, I have the joy of celebrating, with my dearest friend, her 90th birthday. What a gift those years have been to her and all who love her! By her simple, steady faith and her inclusive, unconditional love of others, she has allowed God’s Mercy to shine in her. Those who gather to celebrate her today cherish her and will surround her with their appreciation.

All of our beloved elders need and deserve this kind of love and respect from us. Tell your parents, grandparents and older friends what a blessing they are to you. Let them know they have shone a light on your path.

When Job sat with his children in the midst of his latter riches, he had found a deep friendship with God through all the challenges of his life. His household had been blessed with the same friendship by learning from Job’s ardent faith.

May we never take for granted what we have been given by the ones who go before us, on whose shoulders we stand.

Music: A favorite hymn of my 90-year old friend: To God Be the Glory – André Crouch

Where Were You?

Wednesday. October 3, 2018

                        Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100318.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Job proves his faith in God. His tremendous troubles will not shake him from his deep loyalty to an awesome God.

As well as remaining steadfast, Job uses his circumstances to deliver both a stirring, poetic description of an Omnipotent Creator, and an personal testament to an intimate Companion.

Job9_11

Reading slowly through this beautiful passage, let’s open our imaginations to see the Mountain Mover, the Sun Commander, the Ocean Walker the Star Designer Who is Job’s God.

If our prayer is caught in some old, small image of God, this passage encourages us to reach for the awesome Presence of the God Who loves us – and to trust that Love with the utter simplicity like Job’s.

Music: Where Were You – Mars Hill Music

Why?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

                  Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100218.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Wow! Job is as distraught as anybody I’ve ever seen! He is sorry he was ever born, that’s how terrible his circumstances are.

Job Why

Hopefully, none of us has ever been at such a “Job Point”. But we’ve had our own small brinks where we’ve stood and yelled into the silence, “Why?”  

  1. Why me? 
  2. Why my family? 
  3. Why someone so good? 
  4. Why now? 
  5. Why like this?

All these “whys” are fragments of the essential question of the Book of Job:
                          How can a good God allow evil to exist?
The question even has its own name: theodicy – defined as the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil.

Philosophers and theologians have proposed an array of explanations. But these fall short of satisfying us when we are the ones at the brink.

When we try to balance the concepts of evil with God’s goodness, we are wrestling with a mystery, not a problem. Problems, like unsolved math equations, have answers – even though we may not have found them yet.

Mysteries do not have finite answers. Sacred mysteries engage our faith to grow deeper in relationship with God, Who shares our life and suffering beyond our human understanding. 

On this Feast of the Guardian Angels, whom we ask to be at our side through good and evil, we pray for ever-deepening faith that all will be made whole for Creation in the Infinity of God.

Music: Untouchable ~ Mars Lasar

The Little Way to Holiness

Monday, October 1, 2018

                 Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we begin a week of readings from the Book of Job, a poetic masterpiece and theological treasure. These readings from Job always occur during the 26th week of the Liturgical Year. 

It is so fitting that they should begin this year on the feast Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, a French Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun – popularly known as “The Little Flower”. Thérèse, like Job, experienced much suffering in her life. 

little flower

Some came from external circumstances, such as her mother’s death when Thérèse was only four years old, as well as Thérèse’s own tuberculosis and early death,

But much of Thérèse’s suffering came from within. She possessed a soul of remarkable religious sensitivity to the point of scrupulosity. She struggled with this for much of her early life until a spiritual breakthrough brought her peace. 

Thérèse called this experience a “complete conversion” through which she “felt, in a word, charity enter my heart, the need to forget myself to make others happy—Since this blessed night I was not defeated in any battle, but instead I went from victory to victory and began, so to speak, “to run a giant’s course” (Psalms 19:5).”

This turning from self toward the needs of others is the basis for the truly Christian life. In each life, the call to make this turn comes in different forms. Thérèse calls her approach “The Little Way”. Inspired by a passage from Proverbs, she reimagined her journey to holiness: “Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me” (9:4)

Thérèse wrote:
“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are beyond me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”

The spirituality of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus has inspired many, thus this simple childlike woman has been declared a Doctor of the Church and a Saint.

Music: Art for God – Sr. Marie-Anastasia Communauté des Béatitudes

In this video, sung in French, you will hear and see some of Thérèse’s words. The painting represents her desire to find a “little way” to God.