Let the Light In

Saturday, March 9, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Isaiah tells us how to spiritually balance our lives.

Reading the passage, I thought of my Dad. He was a magnificent, though largely uncredentialed, handyman. One of many important lessons he taught me was how to “true up” a panel of wet wallpaper before pressing it into place. This was particularly necessary if the wallpaper had a vertical pattern or stripe. Failure here led to visitors sitting askew on the living room couch, trying to balance themselves out! 😂

Isaiah says we have to be as careful in our spiritual lives. He says we have to take certain measures to “true up” our souls with the heritage of grace God plans for us. He tells us to remove these imbalances:

oppression
false accusation
malicious speech

Wow! Can’t our world really use that advice?!

Isaiah further says to: 

bestow your bread on the hungry
satisfy the afflicted; THEN …. and ONLY THEN…

Is58_8 light rise

In our Gospel, Jesus calls a man whose career was about all about “balances” – Matthew, the tax collector. Jesus takes Matthew from a world of impersonalized requirements to a world of eternal abundance, calling him to align with the divine scale of mercy.

3_9mirror

Are there places in our lives where we are measuring with the wrong scale; failing to true up the lines with God’s meridian? Lent is about checking it out and making the adjustments we need to make in order to let the Light in.

 

Music:  There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy – Frederick Faber

Called like Matthew

Friday, September 21, 2018

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Today, in Mercy, on this feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, we are blessed with an inspiring reading from Ephesians. We are reminded that each of us is called in God according to our particular gifts. Paul encourages us to live “in a manner worthy of the call we have received” in our Baptism.

evangel Matthew

For most of us, it has been quite a while since we were washed in the waters of our Baptism. A lot of other waters have passed under the bridge since then. We may, or may not, have recognized and responded to our call, continually carried to us on those life waters.

Each moment, each choice, each act and decision asks us once again to choose Christ – over sin, over self, over meaninglessness. Each life opportunity calls us closer to Jesus, to the pattern of his Cross, to the witness of his Resurrection.

Matthew heard such a call as he sat, perhaps dulled by the unconscious disengagement of his life, by the failure to live with intention and openness to grace. As He passed by Matthew, Jesus reached into that ennui, calling Matthew to evangelize all the future generations by his Gospel.

Jesus calls us to be evangelists too – every moment, every day. Our “Yes” to our particular call writes its own Gospel, telling the Good News through our faith, hope and love.

Pope Francis says this:

The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

Music: When You Call My Name ~ Brian Doerksen & Steve Mitchinson

Tenderhearted Mercy

Friday, July 6, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070618.cfm

mercy quilt

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel reading introduces Matthew, a Jewish tax collector. The setting is a dusty Galilean square, crowds bustling by after midday marketing. These are Matthew’s neighbors, and he knows them by name. He calls any tax delinquent passer-by to his customs post, bent on collecting the levies due to the Roman occupiers.

Matthew is not a popular guy. He may have gotten his government job through the influence of his father Alpheus, a man a little better off than his acquaintances. His fellow Jews may have resented Matthew’s education, economic status, and certainly his apparent complicity with a tyrannical government.

Matthew was probably treated like Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the Red Hen Restaurant.  Maybe that’s why Jesus noticed him that day.

But buried deep in Matthew was an unlit wick of messianic hope that only Jesus could discern. With the small spark of two words, “Follow me”, Jesus lit that hidden wick. And all the ensuing ages have been blessed by Matthew’s telling of the divine story!

When Jesus dined with Matthew’s other tax collector friends, the “righteous” Pharisees, entwined in their own sinful complicities, criticized Jesus for his choice of friends. Jesus makes his position clear: I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. His words imply that “the righteous” are irredeemable.

Jesus reminds us that God desires Mercy not sacrifice. Our holy words, laws, and rituals are empty if our actions impede God’s merciful love for all Creation.

We might want to sit at Matthew’s table ourselves today, and ask him to teach us more about that tender-hearted, transformative Mercy.

Music: Tender Hearted – Jeanne Cotter