Don’t Worry; Be God-like

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062318.cfm

lilies of the field

Today, in Mercy, Jesus once again blows all our human instincts to smithereens! He says don’t worry about what you’ll eat or wear. Seek God’s Kingdom and all your needs will be filled. Really?

We may be tempted to picture a hippie type, bird-watching and sun-bathing in a field of of flowers – all agog with the Kingdom, but not too swift with the world!

But that’s probably not what Jesus envisioned. After all, Jesus himself worked hard to secure the necessities his family needed in Nazareth. He worked hard at his ministry throughout the Holy Land, and cared deeply about the success of his message.

What He didn’t do was worry. 

Worry is what happens when we think it all depends on us. It’s what happens when it’s all about us. Worry is a windowless, doorless room where we run around aimlessly. Even God has a hard time getting in to reason with us.

To break out of that room, Jesus says seek God’s way of looking at things. Work hard and do your best – but make sure it’s for important stuff like love, honor, mercy, justice, charity, and peace. Make sure it’s not for “mammon” stuff like greed, selfishness, domination, prejudice and a host of other sins that love to worry us.

If we can make these distinctions in our life, we will have a freedom like the beautiful lilies and the unfettered sparrows. It will be an amazing liberty that the evil-hearted cannot understand or compromise.

Music: Consider the Lilies of the Field (Words below)

Consider the lilies of the field,
How they grow, how they grow.
Consider the birds in the sky,
How they fly, how they fly.

He clothes the lilies of the field.
He feeds the birds in the sky.
And He will feed those who trust Him,
And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sheep of His fold,
How they follow where He leads.
Though the path may wind across the mountains,
He knows the meadows where they feed.

He clothes the lilies of the field.
He feeds the birds in the sky,
And He will feed those who trust Him,
And guide them with His eye.

Consider the sweet, tender children
Who must suffer on this earth.
The pains of all of them He carried
From the day of His birth.

He clothes the lilies of the field,
He feeds the lambs in His fold,
And He will heal those who trust Him,
And make their hearts as gold.

He clothes the lilies of the field,
He feeds the lambs in His fold,
And He will heal those who trust Him,
And make their hearts as gold.

What Matters

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/062018.cfm

Mt6_6

Today, in Mercy, Jesus tells us how to pray and do good. He says that it is our deep-hearted intention that matters in these things. It is there, in the hidden heart, that God dwells with us and reads our love for its sincerity.

God is not impressed with any bling in our words or actions. Not impressed with the big, loud, or wow of what we do. God knows whether we truly love, and it is that which touches Him.

Let the words of Jesus today take you to that inner heart-room where God knows and loves you like no one else can. In that precious quiet, enter the silence of prayer. Listen to God with the soul’s ear that needs no sound. Speak to God with the humble love that needs no words.

Music:  Yo Yo Ma playing Meditation from Thaïs by Jules Massenet

Righteousness

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061418.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus expounds on what a true, faithful life looks like. He uses the word “righteousness”, a word that occurs frequently throughout the Bible. 

“Righteousness” describes the perfect, balanced goodness of the heart of God. It is a balance in which Mercy and Justice complement and infuse each other; a balance of Love so exquisite that it generates the Eternal Life of the Trinity.

Righteousness 6_14_18

Jesus says that we must pattern our lives on that Divine Balance, not on a proud self-righteousness like that of the scribes and Pharisees. If our faith and religious practice do not generate reverence, love, mercy, justice and peace for ourselves and others, then we are skewed in our relationship with God.

Jesus says it is not enough to obey the letter of Law, and certainly not enough to boast about it. We must respond generously to the spirit of the Law which brings the soul into reconciliation with itself and all Creation. This is the new law of love …the true righteousness of a humble, faithful heart.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, it does nothing.
1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

Music: Lead Me Lord ~ Samuel Wesley (1861) A lovely old hymn that can serve as a mantra for prayer throughout your day.  Just let your heart sing it gently.

Finding Christ at the Ice Cream Freezer

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060718.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Paul continues to instruct Timothy on how to deepen his life in Christ.  He says,

“If we die with Christ, we shall also live with Him.”

Some of us, when we pray that verse, will picture ourselves on Calvary, literally dying beside Christ. But I think that our actual path to new life in Christ comes to us in much less dramatic ways. It comes to us in opportunities for selflessness, no matter how small.

I was at the supermarket one day, submerged in the ice cream freezer, looking for Turkey Hill Pineapple Sherbet. It is a rare find. 

pineapple sherbet

An elegant, older gentleman joined me, looking for the same thing.  I told him the sherbet had been recommended to me and that I would like to try it.  He confirmed the recommendation, saying it was his favorite.

We found only one carton. He turned to me and said, “You take it, because you’ve never had it before.  I have.” It may have seemed a small kindness, but it was much more.

That man’s selflessness has stayed with me many long years after the ice cream. Whether or not he was a Christian, he had died to himself.  The practice of openness to others’ needs – even a stranger’s – had become customary for him.

Our death to self and new life in Christ will be evident to others in our ordinary acts of selflessness and service.  It will become the customary way we find joy in life, and the way we give witness to a redeemed heart.

Music: Keep In Mind ~ Lucien Deiss

Corpus Christi

Sunday, June 3, 2018 ~ Corpus Christi

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060318.cfm

Pange 6_3_18

 

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We just called it “Corpus Christi” when we were young. And I still do. Many of us, of a “certain age”, will remember the extravagant processions through our childhood neighborhoods, the garmented priest carrying the monstrance. Little children and adults accompanied the journeying Christ who blessed our neighbors, families, businesses and playgrounds.

Certainly, our neighborhoods today could use such a blessing. But the practice has become outdated in most parishes. Instead, it is we – the People of God and living Body of Christ – who must carry Christ’s Presence to our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and commonplaces. How will you be Corpus Christi for the world today?

Music: Pange Lingua written by St. Thomas Aquinas

Pray

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052618.cfm

James 5_pray

Today, in Mercy, in our first reading, James tells us to pray. In the Gospel, Jesus gives us a wonderful clue about how to pray – with the innocence and openness of a child. Throughout our lives, as we deepen in our spiritual life, prayer becomes simpler. More often it is silence rather than words; presence rather than petition; quiet trust rather than expectation.

As with all relationships, the more comfortable we are with our companion, the fewer words are necessary. It is enough to sit quietly with someone we love to savor each other’s presence. So it is with prayer.  It is in this sense that St. Paul tells us to “pray always”. We are always in the loving presence of God Who delights in us and wills our good.

It is in this sense, as well, that our prayers are always answered. Our prayers are not requests or demands. They are the opening of our experience to the Presence of God so that God pervades our life with grace and holy understanding.

Because wordless music is a good analogy for prayer, please enjoy this rich orchestral rendition of Bach’s Arioso from Cantata 156, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, renowned conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra in the early and mid-1900s.

Come, Holy Spirit!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052018-mass-during-day.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes to us to remain with us forever. May we open our hearts and souls to this infinite power of God within us!

Pentecost

The Pentecost Sequence is so beautiful.  You might like to find the phrase within the Sequence that most touches your heart and soul at this particular time in your life. Let that phrase bless you with the Holy Spirit’s Love.

May this be our prayer for today and the days to come:
Come, O Holy Spirit, come!
From Your bright and blissful Home
Rays of healing light impart. 

Come, Father of the poor,
Source of gifts that will endure
Light of ev’ry human heart. 

You of all consolers best,
Of the soul most kindly Guest,
Quick’ning courage do bestow. 

In hard labor You are rest,
In the heat You refresh best,
And solace give in our woe. 

O most blessed Light divine,
Let Your radiance in us shine,
And our inmost being fill. 

Nothing good by man is thought,
Nothing right by him is wrought,
When he spurns Your gracious Will. 

Cleanse our souls from sinful stain,
Lave our dryness with Your rain,
Heal our wounds and mend our way. 

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray. 

On the faithful who in You,
Trust with childlike piety,
Deign Your sevenfold gift to send. 

Give them virtue’s rich increase,
Saving grace to die in peace,
Give them joys that never end. 

Amen. Alleluia.

Music: The Pentecost Sequence in beautiful Gregorian Chant

Break the Chains, Lord!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050818.cfm

Today, in Mercy, the reading from Acts gives us high drama drawn from real-life events. Paul and Silas, singing hymns and praying after their torture, are sprung from prison chains by God’s power in the form of an earthquake. It’s movie material!

But how does it apply to our lives? Are there chains holding us back from the fullness of our spiritual life? Unredeemed sorrows, cherished vengeances, life-sapping addictions, self-absorbed agendas – so many poor choices can block us from freedom and amazement in God! Let’s pray today for our own little earthquakes. Let’s acknowledge the chains and pray for them to break even if it shakes our world up a bit!

Acts 16_26 Chains

God Has Filled All Things Everywhere

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/050218.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the feast of St. Athanasius who lived in 4th century Egypt. During his lifetime, the Church struggled with the heresy of Arianism which questioned whether Jesus was really God. Athanasius was named a Doctor of the Church for his steadfast defense of the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. Some of Athanasius’s writings are suggestive of the theology of our great modern theologians, and so necessary for our spirituality today.

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. (Pope Francis-Laudato Sí, 84)

If we live at a distance from God, the universe remains neutral or hostile to us. But if believe in God, immediately all around us the elements, even the irksome, organize themselves into a friendly whole, ordered to the ultimate success of life. (Pierre deChardin, SJ – Christianity and Evolution)

Blushing a Little

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042818.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Philip kind of puts his foot in his mouth. He tells Jesus, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Oh, really? Is that all, Philip? It seems like that might be enough for just about anybody, don’t you think?

And Jesus sticks it to Philip a little, “Have I been so long with you and yet you do not know Me? The Father and I are one.”

We might hear Jesus’ question echo in our hearts. Has God been with us throughout our lives and we are still slow to recognize His Presence? Do we need to wake up like Philip in order to see the face of God in nature, in our loved ones, in the joys and sorrows of our life, in all Creation? Has God already shown us more than enough to help us love and believe in Him? Maybe, blushing a little like Philip, we just need to say, “Thank You!”