Alleluia: Wonderful Signs

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 19, 2022

Today’s Readings 

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse reiterates that the love of God is a mutual exchange. God loves us first. But God blossoms in us to the degree that we respond to God’s Word.

Alleluia, alleluia.
If you love me
you will keep my Word,
and my Father will love you
and we will come to you.


Our first reading demonstrates, with beautiful images, the longing of Micah’s community for this kind of relationship:

Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.

Micah 7:14-15

Show us wonderful signs! 

Micah 7:15

It’s a prayer that we can all say at times in our lives. We long to see where and how God is present in our sometimes chaotic world. We want God to wave a sacred wand over our pain, confusion, loss, anger, loneliness and a thousand other burdens. Perhaps we want God to say, “Look! It’s only Me hiding in the corners of your life!”

Our Alleluia Verse says that if we live in God’s Word those signs of Presence will become apparent to us. 

They are there – woven through our everyday experiences. It is our alignment to the Word, nurtured by prayer and good works, that will reveal them to us.


Prose: Thich Nhat Hanh, from “The Sun My Heart”

There is no phenomenon in the universe 
that does not intimately concern us, 
from a pebble resting at the bottom of the ocean, 
to the movement of a galaxy millions of light years away.

Music: Diamonds in Rain – Michael Hoppè

Hoppè dedicated this piece of music to the poet Edward Thomas who, like all good poets, could see diamonds hidden in the rain – signs of wonder and grace. One of ET’s poems in below for your enjoyment.

Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.

Stealthily the dark haunts round
And, when the lamp goes, without sound
At a swifter bound
Than the swiftest hound,
Arrives, and all else is drowned;

And star and I and wind and deer,
Are in the dark together,—near,
Yet far,—and fear
Drums on my ear
In that sage company drear.

How weak and little is the light,
All the universe of sight,
Love and delight,
Before the might,
If you love it not, of night.

Alleluia: Imperative Mood

Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 18, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071822.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear God’s voice,
soften your hearts.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the readings heighten the familiar imperative of our Alleluia Verse with several more injunctions:

  • Hear
  • Soften
  • Arise
  • Answer 
  • Do
  • Love
  • Walk

God is not shy in telling us what to do in order to grow in holiness – in mutual relationship with God.

We have to DO something, to be responsive in order to unite with God. We can’t be just passive lumps of inactive devotion.

Don’t Be a Spiritual Couch Potato

Each instruction has its own vitality which is meant, in turn, to vitalize our spirits and to make us agents of the Holy One in the world.


Our first reading carries this message clearly to the people of Micah’s time. It’s not about contrived sacrifice. It’s about love and compassion.

With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow before God most high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with myriad streams of oil?
Shall I give my first-born for my crime,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
You have been told, O Creature, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do the right and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6: 6-8

The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’s time demand a sign before they will listen. Jesus says the only sign they will get is to remember that the Ninevites listened when Jonah delivered God’s message. 

At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;
and there is something greater than Jonah here.

Matthew 12:42

We don’t have a Micah or a Jonah coaching us to holiness. What we have is the Word present to us in the Gospel and in the community of faith. That Word reveals itself in the circumstances of our lives to which we must respond by:

Hearing God’s invitation 
Softening our hearts from judgments 
Arising from our self-absorption 
Answering the call to holiness
Doing good
Loving compassionately 
Walking humbly with our God


Poetry: from Rumi

Discard yourself 
and thereby regain yourself. 
Spread the trap of humility 
and ensnare Love.

Music: Act Justly – Pat Barrett

Mary, Chamber of Light

December 19, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer a harmonious exultation of Mary, beloved Mother of Jesus.

The prophet Micah foretells the time “when she who is to give birth has borne.”

Even the ancient voices spoke of Mary, long before time knew her name. Their hope depended on her cosmic “Yes”, long before she spoke her first childlike word.


Hebrews speaks of the Body of Christ, that physical place where the grandeur of God took flesh, that tabernacle woven of Mary’s own body and blood, that temple made possible by her “Fiat”.

When Christ came into the world, he said:
    “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
        but a body you prepared for me;
    in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
    Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
    behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

Hebrews 10: 5-7

by Brother Mickey McGrath

The Gospel gives us two loving women, Elizabeth and Mary, rejoicing in God’s power manifested in their lives. They need no proclamations, executive orders, bills, or injunctions. Just a soft greeting, a leap within, a confirmed trust carried in each other’s eyes.

This poem by Mark Strand captures their moment for me. These two women had waited with all Creation for the redeeming Messiah. Now it was about to happen within their lives:

The Coming of Light
Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.


Music: Agni Parthene (Greek: Ἁγνὴ Παρθένε), rendered “O Virgin Pure”, is a Greek Marian Hymn composed by St. Nectarios in the late 19th century. The dulcet melody is sung here in both Greek and English. Lyrics are below.

O Virgin Pure by St. Nectarios

Refrain: O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

O Virgin pure, immaculate/ O Lady Theotokos
O Virgin Mother, Queen of all/ and fleece which is all dewy
More radiant than the rays of sun/ and higher than the heavens
Delight of virgin choruses/ superior to Angels.
Much brighten than the firmament/ and pure than the sun’s light
More holy than the multitude/ of all the heav’nly armies.
O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon’rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim/ and greater than angelic thrones.

O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

Come Back!

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

March 14, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings are soaked in Mercy itself … seasoned by repentance, forgiveness, hope, and trust.

Both in Micah’s lilting, poetic words and in Jesus’s  parable, we are embraced by the infinite tenderness of God.

You may find the following comparison odd at first, but stay with me a minute. Reading this morning’s scriptures, I thought of Lidia Bastianich, the famous chef. To me, her show is the perfect combination of instruction, humor, and familial camaraderie. Still, even though Lydia offers tons of invaluable culinary tips, it is her repeated farewell phrase that I most treasure: “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!”. “Let everyone come to the table and eat!”

Lydia


Micah, who prophesied just prior to the Siege of Jerusalem in 587 BC, condemned the sinfulness rampant in Israel and Judah. At the same time, he consoled the “remnant” people and, àla Lydia, invited them to the table of forgiveness and reconciliation. Here’s the way Micah asks God to “set the table” for God’s repentant People:

Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old …


prodigal dinner
The Parable of the Prodigal Son by Frans II Francken

Jesus describes a similar banquet offered to the repentant son:

The father ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’

As I pray today, I ask if there is any lost or hungry part of my spirit that longs to return to the table of Peace and Mercy. I pray also for those places and souls throughout our world who hunger to hear:

Tutti a tavola a mangiare!”

Music: Father, I Have Sinned -written by Fr. Eugene O’Reilly

The Times They Are A-Changin’

July 24, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072418.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we pray with a passage from the prophet Micah, the last of three over the past few days of readings. Micah, who composed about 700 years before Christ, is considered a “minor prophet”. We hear from him only these three times in our liturgical readings. Yet, some of the loveliest and most moving lines come from the pen of this country poet.

Micah

Micah gave us this gem:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
   And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly[a] with your God.
~ Micah 6:8

He also foretold the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
   though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
   one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
   from ancient times.~ Micah 5:2

Micah was a poor farmer with a rich gift of poetry and grace. In powerful images, he confronted the corporate sinfulness of his times – economic and social injustices institutionalized in the Jerusalem political power structure. He was like a folk singer whose simple words cut to the truth, mourned the sad state of current affairs, and offered lyrical hope to his listeners. Micah teaches us that God’s justice will always prevail. Still, he assures us that this divine justice will be delivered with Mercy.

One can profit from reading Micah prayerfully while considering our current political reality. Like all good poetry, his words still have meaning for us. Our “Jerusalem” may be Washington or Moscow or Beijing. Our “Babylon” maybe economic, environmental, or moral destruction. 

Micah calls us to recognize injustice, especially toward the poor, orphans, and refugees. He enjoins us to mourn the sad reality that surrounds us. And then he encourages us to hope – and act – because God is with us in our vulnerability and will bring us Mercy.

Music: The Times They Are A-Changin’- written by Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, sung here by Bruce Springsteen when Dylan received the Kennedy Honors.( Lyrics below.)

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Dhuf_OvH8B8

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’