Saturday, November 28, 2015

eyes not his

In a night when I couldn't sleep I came across a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins that helped me to go back to sleep and has stayed with me since.  He is not an easy poet.  Take some time with this ending to the poem:
...the just man...
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is--
Christ--for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanks, Love

Thanks, Love, for waking me on this Thanksgiving morning with the full moon shining on my face through a western window.
Thanks, Love, for a new heart, and for returning strength and wits, and for the gift of enjoying another Thanksgiving Day with my family.
Thanks, Love, for taking on flesh and coming to make Your home among us.
Thanks, Love, for the long, all too human tradition of our Catholic faith and for Pope Francis and the newness and mercy that he urges on us.
Thanks, Love, for our country and for the freedom of our way of governing ourselves.
Thanks, Love, for all the beauty that you lavish on us in nature and in art and poetry and fiction and music and movies.
Thanks, Love, for living in us and loving us beyond imagining, beyond deserving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Drawing Near

With the First Sunday of Advent, we begin reading from the Gospel According to Luke.  This is my favorite Gospel and the story of the Prodigal Son is my favorite passage in the Bible.  It seems strange but the first passage (Luke 21: 25-36) that we read this Sunday is an echo of Mark's "Little Apocalypse" which we heard two weeks ago as the end of the church year was approaching. 
Now as we begin to prepare ourselves to celebrate the long ago coming of Jesus, we remind ourselves that he will come again in the future.  He tells us in verse 28, " Your redemption is drawing near." 
It is a challenge as well as a comfort.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Power from Love

John designs the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate to help his readers think about what kind of power Jesus has (John 18:33-37.)  Pilate tries to put Jesus into the category of "king," but Jesus says, "That's not really what I am.  My power is very different from the kind of power you exercise."
Christ gets his power from love.  As we surrender more and more to his gracious love, we find ourselves wanting to love Jesus back and able to do that with his own love, willing to love others with the love of Jesus, even those we find unlovely. The love of Jesus reaching others through us transforms them into lovers like Jesus.  And so his influence spreads.
Pilate got his power from the emperor; Jesus gets his power from love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A King?

In his trial before Pontius Pilate Jesus tells the governor that his kingdom is not of this world.  How does kingship work in "the other world"?  Not by demanding obedience and ordering people around.  Jesus' strategy for conquering our hearts is vey simple - he loves us.
Over and over Jesus says to us, "You are precious to me.  No matter what you have done nor how low you have fallen, I cherish you.  I care what becomes of you."  His strategy works.  Such love is irresistible. We surrender.  His way of loving takes over our lives. 
How his rule will spread when every Christian on earth loves as Christ loves.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Alpha and Omega

In the first vision of Jesus in Revelation he says, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was and who is to come." (1:8)  Identifying himself as the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet expresses Christ's reign from the very beginning to the end of the world.  "I AM" is the name God revealed to Moses in the Burning Bush.  Here and elsewhere that name is developed into "who is and who was and who is to come." 
It is a vision of a Christ who reigns from all eternity into all eternity.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Prostitute as Christ

Dorothy Day and another woman were arrested for walking up 5th Avenue in NYC during a air raid practice when everybody was to have been off the streets.  Another way Day had of protesting war.  They were put in jail cell with prostitutes.  One of them approached Dorothy's companion.  Dorothy yelled at her in anger and sent her to the other side of the cell. 
During the night Dorothy remembered J.D Salinger's Zooey (which I wrote about in the last post).  She recognized that the prostitute was Christ.  The next morning she apologized to the prostitute for being so mean to her the night before.
How wonderful when a work of art can jolt us into recognizing Christ in those whom we find unattractive!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day's birthday was last Sunday.  She was born November 8, 1897, and died November 29, 1980.  What impressed me most about her was her awareness of Jesus living in others.  In an article she wrote in the late 1950's she quoted from J.D. Salinger's Zooey.  Franny has asked her brother Zooey why their oldest brother Seymour told her to polish her shoes before going on the radio and to do such a needless thing "for the Fat Lady."
Zooey replies, "There isn't anyone anywhere who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady.  Don't you know that?  Don't you know that secret yet?  And don't you know--listen to me, now--don't you know who that Fat Lady really is?...Ah, buddy.  Ah, buddy.  It's Christ Himself.  Christ Himself, buddy."
A mantra for me at 20, "The Fat Lady is Jesus Christ."

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Beauty without Pictures

It has been frustrating not being able to share with you some of the many beautiful pictures that I have taken in the last few months.  I have decided, however, to at least start writing again.  We have been having extraordinary weather for this time of year.  I often said that November was my least favorite month because the trees are bare and the snow hasn't arrived yet.  November this year has been full of the Glory of God.
I just spent more than an hour sitting down by the Lake in the late afternoon sun.  There was only the faintest ripple on the water.  I couldn't even feel a faint breeze on my skin.  The temperature in the low 70's kept me there longer than I had planned.  God comes in this Beauty.