The Land of the Living

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

November 7, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our scripture passages are all about confidence in our salvation.

Psalm27- land of living

Do you ever wonder if you’re going to get to heaven? Maybe even worry about it a little? If so, today’s readings are for you.

Paul tells the faithful:

For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

And Jesus, using the symbol of a lost sheep, counsels the critical Pharisees:

I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

Key to both readings is the call to a repentant, Christian life.

Our beautiful Responsorial Psalm captures the joy of the repentant sinner, the very ones for whom Christ died:

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

We might want to turn toward the searching Shepherd today while praying this Psalm of repentance and faith.

Music:  In the Land of the Living – Eric Becker

Our Laboring Mother

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Tuesday, September  3, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Paul again affirms the faith and prudence of the Thessalonians:

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well
that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.

He paints a dire picture of those “times and seasons”, likening them to the onset of labor pains. But like a mother’s labor, these pains ultimately yield life:

For God did not destine us for wrath,
but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So Christ, our Laboring Mother, delivers us – even through seasons of suffering and evil – to a new day. And we – we are the midwives to one another’s salvation:

Therefore, encourage one another
and build one another up,
as indeed you do.

This honest encouragement is so essential for us in our faith communities because, without it, the mystery of suffering and evil overwhelm us. 

Ps27_13

It is both awesome and fearsome to truly encounter Mystery. In its presence, we are rudderless: we cannot explain, control, or humanly rationalize it. Mystery can only be comprehended by greater Mystery. Suffering can only be plumbed by the greater Mystery of Love.

And we know Love’s Name: Jesus by Roc O’Connor (Lyrics below)

Refrain:

Jesus, Jesus
Let all creation bend the knee to the Lord.

1. In Him we live, we move and have our being;
In Him the Christ, In Him the King!
Jesus the Lord.

2. Though Son, He did not cling to Godliness,
But emptied Himself, became a slave!
Jesus the Lord.

3. He lived obediently His Father’s will
Accepting His death, death on a cross!
Jesus the Lord.

One Thing I Ask

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

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Today, in Mercy, both Jesus and Paul continue to instruct us on the Christian life. Paul, writing from a distance to his beloved Philippians, encourages them to hold fast to the teachings he gave them when he was with them. We can sense, in Paul’s tone, an awareness of his impending death. There is a “last advice” urgency in his words.

Ps27_one thing

The same is true of Jesus’s teaching in the Gospel. He is driving home the point that, with God, it must be all or nothing. We can’t be half-hearted, “sometimes” disciples.

His words fall hard on our sensibilities.

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.

Really? Hate? In a Gospel which is always Love, from a man who is himself Love, what can this really mean? 

For me, the passage says that we can let nothing hold us that would turn us from God – even if that might be as dear as beloved family. It means that our one core desire must be that of the Psalmist:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze
on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

What we love, cherish and choose should reveal God’s heart to us, not obscure it. If that’s not the case, we have some tough choices to make, just like Jesus’s listeners in today’s Gospel.

Music: One Thing I Ask, One Thing I Seek