The Light

Tuesday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
November 8, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/110822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings carry a few strident tones. 

The description of the perfect Christian household in Paul’s world feels a little uncomfortable for us in today’s culture:

Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior,
not slanderers, not addicted to drink,
teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women
to love their husbands and children,
to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers,
under the control of their husbands,
so that the word of God may not be discredited.

We understand what Paul was driving at – harmonious, loving and faith-filled families that would nurture the growing Church. But times, attitudes, and understandings change, and the words don’t work so well today.


Our Gospel presents a bit of the same discomfort. It’s hard for us to relate to servanthood, slavery, and unequal accessibility to “the table”.

Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?


Sometimes the “dissonance” of words or cultural concepts in ancient scriptures might cause us too miss the point. Here’s what I found once I cracked through these passages in my prayer.

  • From Titus:

A deep self-respect and
a reverent mutuality in our relationships
allow God’s Presence to be felt in the world.
They are the signs that draw others to grace.

  • From Luke:

We don’t “deserve” anything from God.
All that God gives us is given
in lavish mercy and infinite generosity.
Everything we are and have is GIFT.
Therefore we are bound in gratitude
to live in love and worship,
and to work for the wholeness of all Creation.


Poetry and Music:

Enjoy the poetry of the mystic Rumi, words very much in the tone of John of Cross.

Alleluia: Good Shepherd

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
August 17, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081722.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is
living and effective,
able to discern the reflections
and thoughts of the heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Ezekiel gets another tough assignment from God:

The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?

Ezekiel 34: 1-2

With prophetic insight, Ezekiel understands that Israel’s corrupt leaders will cause its downfall. He takes on the unhappy responsibility of summoning them – and the people – to repentance and conversion of heart.

By comparing Israel’s kings and princes to shepherds, Ezekiel points out how their leadership is a perversion of the ministry to which they have been called. He tells them that God won’t put up with their malfeasance because God has a tenderness for the “sheep” – particularly the struggling ones.

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep, 
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lord GOD: 
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

Ezekiel 34: 10-11

The parallels to our present world are so stark that it’s difficult not to launch into political opining here! But I choose not to because the call within these readings goes much deeper than even current global circumstances.

And it is the call embodied in our Alleluia Verse:

Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern the reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Each one of us is created to live in the sincere light of God’s Word; to discern our relationships within Creation through the ‘living and effective” lens offered to us through our Baptism.

Whether we are leader or follower, these relationships must be built on reverence, honesty, justice, peace and mercy. Only then can we forestall the corporate corruptions that fester in the absence of grace.

The promissory nature of Ezekiel’s oracles articulates what good leadership looks like…in government, in corporations, all through the private sector. That rule consists in:
– Seeking the lost
– Bringing back the strayed
– Binding up the injured
– Strengthening the weak
– Feeding the hungry
In a word, good leadership consists in the restoration of the common good so that all members of the community, strong and weak, rich and poor, may live together in a common shalom of shared resources.

Walter Brueggemann, On Ezekiel 34

In our Gospel, the landowner refuses to be bound by corporate definitions regarding how he treats his laborers. He chooses to be generous, no doubt realizing the laborers’ underlying need for a decent day’s pay. Doing so, the landowner mirrors God whose generosity has granted the landowner life and livelihood.


As we pray today, let’s consider where we serve a leaders, and who depends on our sincere and generous heart for their subsistence. Some of these relationships might be obvious to us – such as the children in our lives, and others whom we support by our presence, care and love.

But others may not be so obvious. There may be others who need us to recognize that they’re waiting to be noticed and invited just like the late laborers of today’s Gospel. Is our world, and our generosity, big enough to include them?


Poetry: Shepherd – Rumi

Be a lamp, 
or a lifeboat, 
or a ladder. 
Help someone’s soul heal. 

Walk out of your house 
like a shepherd.

Music: The Lonely Shepherd – Zamfir

Alleluia: God’s Heart for Us

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 24, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062422.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we offer our loving adoration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Who teaches us the boundless humility of God.

Although not today’s reading, this passage from Philippians captures for me the perfect description of God’s humility in Jesus:

Though Jesus was in the form of God,
he did not count equality with God
a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form
he humbled himself
and became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Creator.

Philippians 2: 6-11

In order to meet our invisible God in prayer, we must imagine God in the ways that most speak to our spirits. For St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that image came in the form of the Sacred Heart, an image which combines both the sacred infinity and the full human heart of Jesus.

Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690) was a French Roman Catholic Visitation nun and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form.

We must never be discouraged or give way to anxiety. . . but ever have recourse to the adorable Heart of Jesus.

Margaret Mary Alacoque

As we pray on this holy feast, may we lean closer and more confidently into the loving heart of Jesus. God loves us enough to do for us what is described in our passage from Philippians. May we fully trust that love and give our own hearts to it.


Poetry: from Rumi in The Masnavi, an extensive poem written in Persian. The Masnavi is one of the most influential works of Sufism, commonly called “the Quran in Persian”. It has been viewed by many commentators as the greatest mystical poem in world literature. The Masnavi is a series of six books of poetry that together amount to around 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. It is a spiritual text that teaches Sufis how to reach their goal of being truly in love with God.

Open the Window

There’s a street where the Beautiful One
is known to take a stroll.

When a certain radiance is noticed
through the latticed windows
of that neighborhood,

people whisper, The Beloved
must be near.

Listen: open a window to God
and breathe. Delight yourself
with what comes through that opening.

The work of love is to create
a window in the heart,

for the breast is illumined
by the beauty of the Beloved.

Gaze incessantly on that Face!
Listen, this is in your power, my friend!

Find a way to your innermost secret.
Let no other perception distract you.

You, yourself, possess the elixir,
so rub it into your skin,

and by this alchemy
your inner enemies will become friends.

And as you are made beautiful,
the Beautiful One will become your own,
the intimate of your once lonely spirit.


Music: This Ancient Love – Carolyn McDade

Alleluia: Love’s Silent Unity

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
June 15, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we listen to Jesus’s instruction and promise about how to live at one with God.

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

What wonderful assurance! We don’t have to labor to find God, or worry about searching for God. 

God will come to us – will blossom in our hearts like a sacred flower, – if we love Jesus and keep his Word.


In the opening sentence of her book “Too Deep for Words”, Thelma Hall, r.c. says this:

There is an inner dynamic in the evolution of all true love that leads to a communication too deep for words.  There the lover becomes inarticulate, falls silent, and the beloved receives the silence as eloquence.

Our verse today carries
that same, exquisite mystery,
the silent and complete unity
that comes from mutual love. 

Our Gospel elaborates on the invitation. 

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Matthew 6:6

Let us savor these promises in our prayer today.


Poetry: in the silence – Rumi

In the silence 
between your heartbeat 
bides a summons
from Love.
Do you hear it? 
Name it if you must, 
or leave it forever nameless, 
but why pretend it is not there?

Music: The God of Silence – Bukas Palau

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 25, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul gives a magnificent oration at the Areopagus in Athens. It was a big deal billing!

V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)
St. Paul at the Areopagus by Raphael (c.1515)

Areopagus, earliest aristocratic council of ancient Athens. The name was taken from the Areopagus (“Ares’ Hill”), a low hill northwest of the Acropolis, which was its meeting place.

In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders of the city, similar to the Roman Senate. Like the Senate, its membership was restricted to those who had held high public office.

The Areopagus, like most city-state institutions, continued to function in Roman times, and it was from this location, drawing from the potential significance of the Athenian altar to the Unknown God that Paul is said to have delivered the famous speech, “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” (Wikipedia)


diamonds


The sermon has so many beautiful lines, like glorious diamonds that can be turned over and over in prayer. Here are a few that glistened for me:


God … does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands
(Instead, God dwells within us)


God is not served by human hands because God needs nothing.
(Instead, our everything comes from God)


God made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth.
(We are all connected in the One Creation)


God fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,
so that people might seek God,
even perhaps grope for him and find him,
though indeed he is not far from any one of us.
(We do grope, sometimes in darkness.)


God has overlooked the times of ignorance,
but now God demands that all people everywhere repent…
(Without Christ, we were in shadows of unknowing. With Christ, we are in Light.)


And my favorite:

Acts17_24 everything

What is the “everything” that God is giving you today? What is the abundance of grace, or hope, or longing in your heart as you pray today? Let God’s fullness embrace any emptiness as you offer God your silence and waiting.


Poetry: Everything – Rumi

Love is
when God says to you
"I have created everything for you",
and you say
"I have left everything for You."

Music: Everything – Lauren Daigle

Lent: Time of Holy Listening

March 2, 2022
Ash Wednesday

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we resolve to turn our hearts more fully to God. The sacred journey of Lent, one we have traveled so often over the years, invites us each time to go deeper into the Well of Mercy.

Joel’s pregnant phrase summons us:

Think of the “even now” moments of your life, those times when, despite darkness and cold, you turned toward light and warmth. Think of a time when, in contradiction to all negativity, your soul proclaimed:

  • Even now I hope
  • Even now I believe
  • Even now I love
  • Even now I care
  • Even now I repent
  • Even now I forgive
  • Even now I begin again

The rise of an “Even Now” moment in our souls is like the hint of spring pushing its head through the winter snow.

It is the reddish-green thread suggesting life at the tip of the brown, cold-cracked branch.

It is the moment we believe that what we desire and love will turn toward us and embrace us.

Can you imagine God having such moments, longing for our attention, love, presence, catching a glimpse of our turning?

Our reading from Joel describes such a God.

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart…
These words suggest God’s longing for us, for our devotion and love.

But our holy intentions weaken and we often drift away from our “first fervors”. Our hearts attach to distractions from God. So God says:

Rend your hearts …
and return to the LORD, your God.
For I am gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, rich in kindness …
Come back to Me, with all your heart.

Joel 2: 13-14

This is what Lent is all about. Each of us knows where our hearts have wandered. Each of knows what we must turn from — even now — to return to God’s embrace.

If we can hear God’s longing in this haunting reading from Joel perhaps the true turning will begin. A blessed Lent, a holy listening, my friends.


Poetry: God’s Longing – from Rumi

All night, a man called out “God! God!”
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Adversary of mankind said, “Hey! Mr Gullible!
… How come you’ve been calling all night
And never once heard God say, “Here, I AM”?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing!”

The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground
And fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met an angel, who asked,
“Why are you regretting calling out to God?”

The man said, “ I called and called
But God never replied, “Here I AM.”

The Angel explained, “God has said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the silence surrounding every call of “God”
Waits a thousand replies of “Here I AM.”


Music: Come Back to Me – Gregory Norbet, sung by John Michael Talbot

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the beautiful Psalm 91, so full of images to help us experience the steadfast tenderness of God.

Our Gospel shows us this tender mercy in the story of Jesus and two complementary healings – the woman who suffered for twelve years, and the young girl who has lived only twelve years.

In both cases Jesus, by a touch received or given, gathers a broken soul under Mercy’s wing. In the mystery of that grace-filled shade, the soul is restored to the fullness of Light.

As we pray Psalm 91 today let us, like the Gospel’s woman and young girl, reach for any healing and wholeness we long for. 

Is there something in us
that has died too soon
and longs to be reborn?

Is there something
crippled in us
that longs to leap once more
and run free?

May we find new life under God’s infinitely caring wing which ever hovers over us in love.


Poetry: A video mix of Rumi and Hafiz, a dynamite combo!


Music: Shadow of Your Wings – Jeff Nelson

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, a repeated favorite on the blog – you might like to re-visit any of the 13 entries:


Today, let’s pray with 119 in the light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, … 
was not “yes” and “no,” but always “YES”.
God’s promises … find their “Yes” in him.

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

Here’s what those slightly cryptic but profoundly meaningful phrases mean to me.

No doubt, sometime in your life you have heard someone powerful say “No” to you. Or perhaps life itself has said it with some insurmountable limitations.

It is in those moments that we truly understand what “Yes” means because it has eluded us!

That meaning takes various forms depending on our circumstances. “Yes” can mean freedom, love, mercy, forgiveness, renewal, possibility, hope, fulfillment.

And “Yes” is always a beginning … a mystery that longs to be unfurled, unpeeled – like this beautiful red onion ( that I bought yesterday for a salad that turned into a reflection!)


Psalm 119 “unpeels” the layers of our relationship with God. Here’s how I hear it in my prayer:

O Lovely God,
You are wonderful.
You are my Light.
You amaze me
by the “Yes” of your Love.
You fire my spirit
to love You in return.

Lavish Mercy, turn to me
because I love You.
Steady me in my shadows.
Draw my “yes” 
into the Light 
of your beautiful Face.

based on Psalm 119:129-135

Poem: love is a place – e.e.cummings 

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

Music: The Beauty We Love

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

May 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 11, inviting us to enter the eye of God:

The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.

Psalm 11:7


To rest in someone’s loving gaze is the greatest of blessings. Such a look carries understanding, acceptance, hope, encouragement, and a rainbow of other gifts.

We easily look at newborns and young children with such unconditional regard. As people age though, it may become more complex always to see them in such positive light. Life’s big and little dramas block our sight, right?

But, as Psalm 11 assures us, God will never look at us without that kind of love. Wow!

God’s eyes behold us;
    God’s searching glance wraps us round with love.

Psalm 11: 4-5

For our prayer today, we may just want to let God look at us. And we might want to look back with that mutual glance that sings, “Beloved”.


Poetry: Beloved – by Rumi

All through eternity
Beauty unveils His exquisite form
in the solitude of nothingness;
He holds a mirror to His Face
and beholds His own beauty.
he is the knower and the known,
the seer and the seen;
No eye but His own
has ever looked upon this Universe.

His every quality finds a Word:
Eternity becomes the verdant field of Time and Space;
Love, the life-giving garden of this world.
Every branch and leaf and fruit
Reveals an aspect of His perfection-
The cypress give hint of His majesty,
The rose gives tidings of His beauty.

Whenever Beauty looks,
Love is also there;
Whenever beauty shows a rosy cheek
Love lights Her fire from that flame.
When beauty dwells in the dark folds of night
Love comes and finds a heart
entangled in tresses.

Beauty and Love are as body and soul.
Beauty is the mine; Love is the diamond.
They have been together
since the beginning of time-
Side by side, step by step.

I swear, since seeing Your face,
the whole world is fantasy.
The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf
or blossom. The distracted birds
can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare.
A house of love with no limits,
a presence more beautiful than Venus or the moon,
a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart.

Music: Be Thou My Vision

Psalm 95: Listening Softly

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 31, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 95, once again a call to a holy tenderheartedness – that mix of love, discernment, and generosity that magnetizes us into dynamic relationship with God.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
    “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
    as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
    they tested me though they had seen my works.”

Psalm 95: 7-9

Our other Sunday readings, which Psalm 95 anchors, clarify the reason we seek this tenderheartedness. It is so that we might not only hear, but really listen and respond to the Truth of God in our lives.

Those who will not listen to my words
which a prophet speaks in my name,
I myself will make them answer for it.

Deuteronomy 18:18

In our first reading from Deuteronomy, the people were confused. They were passing into a new land with lots of rivaling religions and spiritualities. Moses was nearing the end of his life and leadership over them. They wanted to know who to listen to and how to behave in order to stay in God’s favor.

God promises that God’s voice will come through a prophet like Moses:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth;
he shall tell them all that I command him.

Deuteronomy 18: 19

In our Gospel, we see Jesus – the fulfillment of the Deuteronomic Promise. The people witnessing his power are amazed. They struggle with whether they can believe in him when he seems just one of them, a Nazarene, Joseph’s son.

But some could believe – readily. Some, like the disciples, discerned quickly the Truth Jesus was. They heard, listened, believed and obeyed the Word.

Our psalm suggests that such readiness, such tenderheartedness comes from the consistent practice of relationship with God through praise, witness, thanksgiving, prayer, worship, humility, and obedience.


To me, it boils down to this:

  • let your life unfold in God’s Presence
  • be silent under God’s loving gaze
  • thank God for all you have been given
  • realize you are nothing without God
  • listen to your life as God speaks it to you
  • act on what you hear
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
    let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving;
    let us joyfully sing psalms to the Lord.
R. If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
    let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For the Lord is our God,
    and we are the people God shepherds, the flock God guides.

Poetry: Rumi

I keep telling my heart,
“Go easy now.
I am submerged in golden treasure.”
It replies,
“Why should I be afraid of love?”

Music: Soften My Heart – by Music Meets Heaven