Rabbouni

Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019

Click here for readings.

Resurrection

The Upper Room on Holy Saturday evening: a place filled with sadness, silence and seeking. Jesus was dead. Jerusalem, scattered to their various houses to keep Shabbat, murmur their shocked questions under their shaky prayers.

We have all been in rooms like this. They enclose a special kind of agony – one teetering between hope and doubt, between loss and restoration. It may have been a surgical waiting room or the hallway outside the courtroom. Sometimes, such a space is not bricks and mortar.  It is the space between a sealed envelope and the news inside. It is the hesitant pause between a heartfelt request and the critical response. In each of these places, we exist as if in a held breath, hoping against hope for life, freedom, and wholeness.

It was from such a room that Mary Magdalene stole away in the wee hours. A woman unafraid of loneliness, she walked in tearful prayer along the path to Jesus’ tomb. Sweet memories washed over her: forgiving words, release from demons, an alabaster jar. Scent of jasmine rose up on the early morning mist. Hope rose with it that his vow to return might be true. Then she saw the gaping tomb, the alarm that thieves had stolen him to sabotage his promise. She ran to the emptiness seeking him. She was met by angels clothed in light and glory, but they were not enough to soothe her.

Turning from them, she bumped against a gardener whom she begged for word of Jesus, just so she might tend to him again. A single word revealed his glory, “Mary”. He spoke her name in love.

As we seek the assurance of God’s presence in our lives, we too may be unaware that God is already with us. The deep listening of our spirit, dulled with daily burdens, may not hear our name lovingly spoken in the circumstances of our lives. God is standing behind every moment. All we need do is turn to recognize him.

Turn anger into understanding. Turn vengeance into forgiveness. Turn entitlement into gratitude. Turn indifference into love. All we need do is turn to recognize our Easter God.

Music: Rimsky-Korsakov – Russian Easter Overture

Poem: The Anointing at Bethany

John 12_3 jar

Come close with Mary, Martha, Lazarus
so close the candles stir with their soft breath
and kindle heart and soul to flame within us,
lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement
in quietness and intimate encounter.
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
is broken open for the world’s true Lover.

The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
with all the yearning such a fragrance brings.
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
here at the very center of all things,
here at the meeting place of love and loss,
we all foresee, and see beyond the cross.

(Malcolm Guite: The Anointing at Bethany)

The Harlot’s Hair

Thursday, September 20, 2018

      Click here for readings.

Can you see her? 

She is known throughout the town for the woman she is – no ordinary, unknown panderer of her body’s wares. She is a true “madam”, and a few of her customers already sit, silent and furtive, at the Pharisee’s table.

Lk7_37 jar

She wears an elegant robe, for her fees are steep. Gem-encrusted bracelets encircle her wrists and ankles. But it is her hair that crowns her beauty. Flowing like a sable river, it is wound in deep waves around her lovely face and shoulders. It is scented with a small bit of the precious ointment she now carries in her alabaster jar.

Among her many assets, it is her hair that sets her apart. Some women see it through green eyes; some men through black hearts. But she, even in the confusion of her choices, has always known it to be a gift. 

How to use the gift has been her life long challenge. Ultimately, would it prove to be her salvation or her damnation?  Is it not so with every special gift, with every leverage that makes us singular among our peers? 

These gifts may take the form of possessions, power, position, favor or myriad other shapes. They may reside in a clever wit, and incisive mind, and agile body, a profound spirit. They may rest in a dogged perseverance, an adhesive memory or a dynamic imagination. Whatever our unique power, it is the key to our self-definition. It speaks our particular presence in the world.

At some point in her soul’s journey, this gorgeous gospel woman decided that her superior beauty would serve Jesus. What might have caused that dramatic conversion in her life?

Some versions of the story say that seven devils were once cast from her by Jesus’s merciful hand. Whatever the moment might have been, we can see from today’s Gospel scene that it was profound, intimate, and complete.

Her luxuriant hair has become a sacrament of healing, offered on this night to a friend about to suffer death for the sake of Love. Because her own love is so great, she understands this suffering in Jesus long before his other followers.

This reading leaves us with so much to consider about our own gifts and how we use them; about the depth of our relationship with Jesus and how we show him our love; about what is in our alabaster jar and where we choose to pour its treasure.

Music: Pour My Love on You – Philips, Craig, and Dean

Mary, Mother of the Church

Monday, May 21, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. It is a day to honor Mary for giving life to Jesus for the sake of all humanity. It is day to beg her intercession for a world so desperately in need of Christ’s continued revelation.

Mary is the door through which Heaven visited earth to heal it from sinful fragmentation. May she continue to carry her beautiful grace to broken hearts and even to the twisted souls who broke them. Through her, may we all find healing.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, intercede for all Creation that we may embrace the love your Son taught us.

( Friends, I began my annual retreat on Pentecost evening. All of you, dear followers, will be very much in my prayers. Please pray for me too. ❤️)

Music: Ave Maria ~ Michael Hoppè

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SLoaDz1af0M

The “Scriptures of Our Lives”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Readings: Acts 13:13-25; Psalm 89; John 13:16-20

Today, in Mercy, our readings continue to extol the blessings of salvation history as it culminates in the Resurrection. In Acts, Paul recounts God’s presence throughout the Jewish Scriptures . In John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the fulfillment of these scriptures in Himself. Psalm 89 allows us to offer thanks for God’s presence throughout the “scriptures of our lives.” Are there times in your life when you remember God’s presence most gratefully? Are there times God has carried you through to salvation? Mary sang her thanks so beautifully that I thought our prayer would be blessed by a song about her.

Divine Lightning

Monday, April 9, 2018: Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the feast of the Annunciation and Incarnation (because Palm Sunday fell on the normal date 3/25.) At the angel’s Word, Mary opened her being fully to the transforming power of God. Within her “Yes”, divinity and humanity became one. In each generation, God’s transformation of Creation continues in us. A holy “yes”, given to God’s revolutionary invitation, still has the power of Divine Lightning! Nothing is wilder than grace! Nothing more free than God’s imagination for us!

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