Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, May 3, 2015: In him my soul shall live...

In him my soul shall live…
How connected are we to God?

In his Last Supper discourse to the disciples in John’s Gospel, a bit of which we hear this Sunday, Jesus describes our relationship with him, and through him with God, using the image of the vine and the branches:  I am the true vine, he says, and my Father is the vine grower… You are the branches.  It is God’s love that prunes the vine, cutting away whatever we cling to that will not bear fruit in our lives, so that we can believe and trust and find consolation in God’s love.  Once pruned, so long as we remain connected to the one thing we truly need – that love – we can live in Jesus and he in us, and through that love we can also be connected to all each other. 

For as the First Letter of John reminds us, if we are beloved by God, then we should relate in love with one another:  let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.  It’s not enough to talk about love; we need to live it because we believe in the power of God’s love come to earth in the form of Jesus.  Only then can we remain in Christ.  And it’s not easy; even the first Christians had trouble with the concept.  After Saul’s radical conversion experience, as told in Acts, he tries to join the apostles in Jerusalem, but most will have nothing to do with him until Barnabas reaches out and creates the much-needed connection.  Only then is true trust possible; only then can the work of the early Christian mission continue. 

Some scholars suggest that the word religion comes from the Latin verb religare, which means to bind fast. Perhaps this is what is meant in Psalm 22in him my soul shall live: that in the context of our relationship with God and with God’s Son, we are all bound fast together, one body, vine and branches.  For in the end, isn’t connection more or less what Christianity is basically about?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, April 27, 2015

All surrounding grace (Denise Levertov)

The Avowal

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
free-fall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

--Denise Levertov, Collected Poems

Image source:  OLMC parishioner Tim Shore  (Thanks, Tim!!)
Poem source 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, April 26, 2015: See what love the Father has bestowed...

What can faith teach us about intimacy?

When, in this Sunday’s reading from John’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Jewish leaders that he is the good shepherd, he is setting himself in stark contrast to them.  Unlike the authorities who are unsettled by his teachings because they themselves fall short, Jesus is the image of perfect love, ready to lay down his life for his sheep; although he is all too aware of his followers’ faults, he loves them still, and invites them to enter into his life, and to share his life, his intimacy, with the Father.  The profound love that compels Jesus to the cross is the profound love into which we are baptized.  To be open to that love is to recognize that Jesus is the Messiah, sent to bring salvation to all; faith, then, is about acceptance of that love, a love that fosters deeper connection, profound intimacy, with the God of love.

Because they know that intimacy of connection, we see in Acts, Peter and John are able to heal, as Peter tells the Jewish authorities, in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean.  Jesus is their cornerstone, their foundation, without whom intimacy with God, love, and salvation are impossible.  They know the profound love the Father has bestowed on us, know the intimacy that is theirs because they are children of God (1 John).  They can therefore, like the author of Psalm 118, give thanks to the Lord before the Jewish leaders, knowing God’s mercy is theirs, trusting in the intimacy of profound love that is their refuge.

Do we have their faith in the gift of intimacy, 
in the promise of God’s profound love for us?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle

Monday, April 20, 2015

Testify to Love (Avalon)

Testify to Love

All the colors of the rainbow, all the voices of the wind;
Every dream that reaches out,
That reaches out to find where love begins;
Every word of every story, every star in every sky,
Every corner of creation lives to testify.

For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.
I’ll be a witness in the silences when words are not enough.
With every breath I take, I will give thanks to God above,
For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love.

From the mountains to the valleys,
From the rivers to the sea (rivers to the sea);
Every hand that reaches out,
Every hand that reaches out to offer peace (give peace);
Every simple act of mercy,
Every step to kingdom come (kingdom come),
All the hope in every heart will speak what love has done.


Colors of the rainbow, voices of the wind,
Dream that reaches out where the love begins,
Word of every story, star in every sky,
Corner of creation testify
Mountains to the valleys, rivers to the sea,
Hand that reaches out to offer peace,
Simple act of mercy, step to kingdom come
Every heart will speak of what love has done
Colors of the rainbow, voices of the wind,
Dream that reaches out where the love begins,
Word of every story, star in every sky,
Corner of creation testify


Video source
Lyrics source

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, April 19, 2015: The love of God is truly perfected in him...

Do you know the Risen Christ?

Jesus appears several times to his disciples after the Resurrection.  For example, in our gospel reading from Luke this Sunday, Jesus reveals himself to his disciples both in the Word and in the Breaking of the Bread.  In so doing, he transforms their meal, opening their minds, and their hearts, and inviting them – Peace be with you – to let go of what is holding them down – their doubts, their unbelief, their sin and fear – so that they, too might be transformed.  And then, fully present to them, body and spirit, Jesus asks them to enter into his death and rising with him so that they might be his witnesses to all that is written, so that they might preach repentance in his name.

Peter has been doing just that throughout Jerusalem, as we read in Acts this week, witnessing not only to all that God has done, but to the forgiveness Peter himself has experienced in his own life.  Peter calls his listeners to do the same: to know the risen Jesus, to know the power of his death and resurrection at work in their lives.  Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, he tells them, for Jesus, as the epistle-writer John tells us, is expiation for our sins (1 John).  And, once they are in right relationship with God, Psalm 4 assures them, they will fall peacefully asleep, able to enjoy God’s countenance shining upon them, and the gladness God puts in their hearts.

Do you know the Risen Christ?
(Hint:  for starters, he’s present in the Word and in the Breaking of the Bread!)

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Monday, April 13, 2015

My peace I give to you

My peace I give to you...
Are you comfortable with the Sign of Peace?

Parishioners under 50 might not recall that the Sign of Peace was reintroduced following the deliberations of Vatican II.  After the celebrant prays that the peace of Christ fill our hearts, our families, our Church, our communities, and our world, we are invited to share with those around us a sign of Christ’s peace.  As we do so, we might keep in mind that it is Jesus taking the initiative here:  I leave you peace, my peace I give to you.  It is this peace, born of the gift of salvation, that calmed the worried disciples as they sheltered in a locked room on Pentecost; indeed, it is so important, Jesus says it twice!  Surely it should be as important to us…

When we say to one another at the Mass, Peace be with you, we are extending to those around us something bigger than ourselves, namely, the knowledge of all that Jesus’s love has to bring to this world.  We are invited to share some sign of that love active in our life, communicating it to others, so that that love can flow from within to without, filling our world.  The love of God can’t be contained, or preserved.  Peace be with you is our invitation to others to find the peace that only love can bring, the love, and peace, we know in our hearts.

Peace be with you!

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source