Inseparable

Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

October 31, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Paul exults in God’s love and Jesus suffers the full burden of his impending passion. And the two are tied tightly together.

Romans8_

Let me tell you a story that symbolizes that tight knot.

It was in the late 1960s. A group of us had traveled to Atlantic City for the National Catholic Education Convention. Weather forecasting was not so advanced in those days, or at least, we were not so attuned to it. We went to our various sessions early one morning, only to come out of them a few hours later into a hurricane!

I remember walking, obliviously, up to the boardwalk, on my way to the next session in another hotel. The wind became so heavy that I was blown, motionless, against the boardwalk railing. A plexiglass window pane blew by me, cutting me just below the eye. For a short while, that seemed very long, I feared for my life. A strong, young man actually pulled me into a nearby lobby where I tried to calm my fears.

rowboat

But the next morning, there was a beautiful rainbow and a brilliant, calm sky. I walked back to the bay to survey the previous day’s damage. It was significant. But one image remains in my mind these fifty years later: the front quarter of a battered boat still attached to a half-sunken dock by a thick, sodden rope that wouldn’t let go in the storm.

I think that, in today’s Gospel, Jesus might have felt a little bit like that boat. He has been battered by the resistance of his enemies. He knows it is an ill wind for his message.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how many times I yearned to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
but you were unwilling!

Still, like that strong, unrelenting rope, he is held sure by the love of God:

But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Paul, through his baptism, inherited that faith, hope and love purchased for us all by the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

Whenever a storm rises up around your soul, whether expected or not, remember that knot which ties you to the steady and enduring love of God:

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Music: Nothing Can Separate Us – First Call (Lyrics below)

 

lyrics

The Way – Amy Lowell

(When I read this poem, I see Jesus beginning his life’s journey in joyous hope, then meeting the reality of his Passion, Death and Resurrection. I see my own journey too, in its different phases of light and darkness – of hope, sorrow and joy.  Read the whole, but then take time with the pregnant phrases. One will capture you where your are standing today. Stand there with Jesus.)

path

At first a mere thread of a footpath half blotted out by the grasses
Sweeping triumphant across it, it wound between hedges of roses
Whose blossoms were poised above leaves as pond lilies float on the water,
While hidden by bloom in a hawthorn a bird filled the morning with singing.

It widened a highway, majestic, stretching ever to distant horizons,
Where shadows of tree-branches wavered, vague outlines invaded by sunshine;
No sound but the wind as it whispered the secrets of earth to the flowers,
And the hum of the yellow bees, honey-laden and dusty with pollen.

And Summer said, “Come, follow onward, with no thought save the longing to wander,
The wind, and the bees, and the flowers, all singing the great song of Nature,
Are minstrels of change and of promise, they herald the joy of the Future.”

Later the solitude vanished, confused and distracted the road
Where many were seeking and jostling. Left behind were the trees and the flowers,
The half-realized beauty of quiet, the sacred unconscious communing.

And now he is come to a river, a line of gray, sullen water,
Not blue and splashing, but dark, rolling somberly on to the ocean.
But on the far side is a city whose windows flame gold in the sunset.

It lies fair and shining before him, a gem set betwixt sky and water,
And spanning the river a bridge, frail promise to longing desire,
Flung by man in his infinite courage, across the stern force of the water;

And he looks at the river and fears, the bridge is so slight, yet he ventures
His life to its fragile keeping, if it fails the waves will engulf him.
O Arches! be strong to uphold him, and bear him across to the city,
The beautiful city whose spires still glow with the fires of sunset!

Music: from the album Traveler’s Prayer –  John Redbourn