Be the “Possible” That God Imagines!

Tuesday after Epiphany

January 7, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings empower us for unbounded possibility!

John’s letter tells us why:

In this is love:
not that we have loved God,
but that God loved us…

God has loved me!

There is nothing more I need to be whole — if I will only believe it, absorb it, and live from it!

There is nothing more I need to become a force for love in the world.


Mk6_4 loaves

Jesus demonstrates this powerful love in our Gospel reading.

It has been a long day of teaching, and the disciples see that the crowds are hungry and tired. They know the solution, which Jesus has apparently overlooked : let them go home and get something to eat!

But Jesus very simply responds, “Feed them yourselves!

He invites his disciples to realize the power released within them by God’s supernatural love. He challenges them to envision a way to respond to their challenges other than the tired, limited solutions we anxiously depend on.

Jesus calls them to imagine the world as God imagines it – transformed by an Unconditional Love which refuses the measurements of fear, control, and self- preservation.


loaves and fishes

Can you just visualize the scene that afternoon as the five loaves and two fish miraculously multiplied over the crowd of five thousand!

Can you see the expressions on the disciples’ faces as they allowed themselves to believe that, because of God’s Love, they were the vehicle of miracles!

We are too! There is no good we are incapable of if we will just believe in the power of Divine Love within us. Our miracles may not be as dramatic as the multiplication of the loaves. But they will be no less important.

They will be the miracles God planned for us to work in God’s name – for our circumstances, our challenges. They will be the way we carry God’s unimaginable grace to the tired hungers of our times.

Picture yourself starting out today, carrying that basket with just two fish and five loaves into the famished world. Imagine what happens when you open your heart to God grasping the basket with you!

Music: Imagine – John Lennon – I love this song in which Lennon imagines a world free of all the human constructs by which we limit it – a world as God might see it.

Love or Hate? Huh?

Wednesday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

November 6, 2019

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Roman13_8 owe nothing

Today, in Mercy, Paul and Jesus seem to give us contradictory messages. Paul talks about love, and Jesus tells us what we must “hate” – a bit of a challenge to untangle the core message.

Here’s one way.

We don’t like Jesus telling us to hate anything, as in:

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.

Come on, Jesus! You don’t mean that do you – my sweet mom, my precious kids???

No, the scholars say, Jesus doesn’t mean “hate” the way we interpret it in modern English. He is using the common, hyperbolic language of the ancient East which, in this circumstance, would mean “love less”.

So what is Jesus really saying? 

This.

We love many people and things in our lives. But we must love God, and God’s dream for all people, above and within all things. 

And that’s not easy! Life is a maze of relationships and situations that can get us very confused about what is most important. That’s why Jesus uses such strong language to remind us that there is only one way through the maze: to love as God loves. This is the heartbeat of our life in God!

Paul says this too, indicating as well how to negotiate the maze by keeping Love’s commandments.

If we love with God’s love, of course we will love those we cherish. But we will love them selflessly, with an infinite generosity that always chooses their eternal good. And we will try always to love all Creatures in the same way. This is the kind of love Jesus taught us on the Cross. May God give us the courage to learn.

Music: Ubi Caritas performed by Stockholm University Choir (texts below)

Latin Text

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul quoque cum beatis videamus,
Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus:
Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum,
Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen.

English Translation
Where charity and love are, God is there.
Love of Christ has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And from a sincere heart let us love one.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time, therefore, are gathered into one:
Lest we be divided in mind, let us beware.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease.
And in the midst of us be Christ our God.
Where charity and love are, God is there.
At the same time we see that with the saints also,
Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good,
Unto the World without end. Amen.

But WHY, for God’s Sake?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061918.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus continues to instruct  us in the way of Christian perfection. As we look back over history, and contemplate the present, we realize that these are instructions many Christians have chosen to ignore.

Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you.

But WHY, for God’s sake??? Why should we love our ENEMIES???

And that’s exactly the answer: for God’s sake.

Jesus tells us that this is the way God loves, and that if we want to be like God, we must love that way too.

sun on good

God lets his rain – his grace – pour out to everyone. God does not withhold the hope for good from any creature. It doesn’t mean that God, or we, don’t recognize evil and sin in another. It means that we love despite it.

We may have a few people in our hearts whom we consider so evil or mean-hearted (people who hurt us or the world so egregiously) that we have withdrawn our respect and love from them.

These are the very people Jesus tells us to pray for today. May they be opened to God’s grace. May they be healed by Love. And may we.

Music: Tender Hearted~ by Jeanne Cotter

 

Trinity: Incomprehensible Love

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052718.cfm

Trinity

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the most profound mysteries of our faith. The first reading shows us that human beings have been trying to understand this mystery ever since the time of Moses! The readings from both Romans and Matthew describe the power of God’s triune love in those who believe. But none of the readings really explain the Holy Trinity.

And that’s the whole point. “Mystery” cannot be explained.. We fumble around with human words in an attempt to capture a reality beyond words, beyond analysis – but not beyond faith. Mystery can only be encountered in humble and undemanding faith.

Today, as Christians, we profess our belief in a God Who is incomprehensible Infinite Love creating, redeeming and sanctifying all Creation. This Infinite Love is so pure and complete that, within its Unity, it both embraces and frees the three Persons of the Trinity.

Pope Francis has said, “The Christian community, though with all its human limitations, can become a reflection of the communion of the Trinity, of its goodness and beauty.”  Our prayer today is to grow in our capacity to love in imitation of the Trinity. May we, as individuals and as a Church, increase in that merciful inclusivity and wholeness which reflects the triune love of God, at once embracing and freeing all that we love.

Music: Grace ~ Michael Hoppè – May this reflective piece offer us the space to enter into God’s Presence.

Do You Love Me?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051818.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus extracts a pledge from Peter with the question, “Do you love me?” This is a brave question on Jesus’ part. What if Peter’s answer is half-hearted?  But the full-spirited Peter does not disappoint. “Of course, I love You,” he avows. But then, Jesus ups the ante with some “prove it” clauses: “Feed my lambs and my sheep.”

This passage always reminds me of a wonderful scene from Fiddler on the Roof.

 

What about us? Do we really love Jesus? Pope Gregory the Great says this:

The proof of love is in the works.
Where love exists, it works great things.
But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.

Music: If You Love Me ~ Cyprian Consiglio, OSB

We Are God’s Gifts

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051718.cfm

Today, in Mercy, in John 17, we are folded into the prayer of Jesus as He talks to the Father about us. We are the humble, silent listeners to a Divine Conversation. Jesus prays that we may be part of His unity with the Father. He calls us His gifts and asks to keep us with Him in eternal life. He asks to live within us through the gift of the Father’s love. These are awesome prayers that may be too much for us to comprehend.

But picture this: a loving parent embracing a frightened or injured child. The parent looks up to heaven, asking God to keep this child safe; to never let them be lost; to fill them with love, joy and life. The praying parent promises to always protect and guide their cherished child like a precious gift and to hold them securely in times of trouble.

This is the way Jesus prays for us. Awesome, indeed!

John17_24

Music: He Will Hold Me Fast ~ Keith and Kristyn Getty

Our First Glimpse of God

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051318-seventh-sunday-easter.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings from John’s epistle and Gospel are replete with love – the Holy Love of God for us, and God’s hope for that love to be reflected in us. How fitting these readings are for Mother’s Day, when we honor the one who was a first source of love for us. A loving mother is our first glimpse into the face of God. Throughout our lives, she protects and prays for us, just as Jesus does for his disciples in today’s Gospel. Through her sacrificial love, she is our first teacher of what it means to live like Christ.

Let us pray today for all mothers, especially our own. Each one, no doubt, did the best she could to offer us life. For some, that was harder than for others – and some of us struggle with that reality throughout our lives. For others, our mother’s love has always been the unequivocal source of our strength and joy.

Today is a day to recognize that every mother has held the hope of loving us into the fullness of life. Let us bless our mother for that hope and for every bit of love she has given us.

1 John 4_Mothers Day

Song: A Mother’s Prayer – Celine Dion

Can Suffering and Sacrifice Lead to Glory?

Friday, May 11, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Acts continues to describe the development of the early Church. Paul spends 18 months in Corinth, working with the new Christians through the many twists of a growing community. Luke’s Gospel reminds us of a key teaching for this, and our, community: If we really live like Christ, we will suffer, and die to ourselves before any hope of glory.

A true Christian life is not without sacrifice (which comes by choice) nor suffering (which comes by imposition). 

We sacrifice because we love. Consider all that parents sacrifice for their children’s sake.

When we suffer, we must also love, but add the hope for healing in ourselves and in anyone who causes our suffering.

This is to live like Christ.

Luke 24

Some Amazing Developments

Monday, May 7, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050718.cfm

Today, in Mercy, some amazing things occur in our reading from Acts. First of all, Paul ventures into Europe preaching the Word. He and his team have come to the Roman colony of Philippi. While there, he speaks with and befriends – not the leading men – but Lydia, a holy woman of significant influence. These occurrences indicate how different this new religion will be, where Gentiles and women are welcomed into the community of faith. Let’s pray for a similar inclusivity in our churches today, even as society attempts to label, stratify and isolate people based on race, sex, nationality, economics, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic.

Acts16_Lydia

To Love Like God

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050618.cfm

Today, in Mercy, in our readings from John’s letter and from his Gospel, we again see the reiteration of Jesus’ most important message: Love one another.  It sounds so easy and sweet, but it is so difficult to love as Jesus loves – without judgment or the expectation of recompense; without reserve and without preference. It is so hard to continue to love when love is met with indifference, arrogance or even hate. Still Jesus asks us to love as He does – to will the eternal good of every person and to foster it by our actions. May we have the grace to keep on trying.

as I have loved you