Friday, April 28, 2017

Dan Berrigan: Witness

The morning dew calls our attention to spider webs woven on weeds.  (click on picture to enlarge)
Dan Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, died a year ago tomorrow. By extravagant actions, he called our attention to the immorality of the Vietnam War: "Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper (draft cards) instead of children....We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.  For we are sick at heart, our hearts give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning Children."  He inspired me and many others to take part in protests, though less extravagant ones.
When Jesus tells us at the end of Luke's Gospel, "You are witnesses to this," that's what he's talking about.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Suffering Messiah

This morning's cross.
The two disciples on the way to Emmaus tell the stranger who joins them on the road that the Cross has dashed their hopes that Jesus was the Messiah. The unrecognized Risen Christ uses the Jewish Scriptures to show them that "the Messiah should suffer before entering into his glory."  Sometimes what we want Jesus to be blinds us to who he wants to be for us.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Lead us to your stillness
and grasp us by your love.

(Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today's Catholic
  Liturgical Press)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Good Enough

Mark's chapter 16, verses 9-15, part of the so-called long-ending, is never read on a weekend, but it has an worthwhile message for us.  The disciples don't believe Mary Magdalene nor the two disciples from the country when they tell the disciples that they have seen the risen Jesus.  Jesus  himself appears to them and reproaches them for their unbelief and stubbornness.  Immediately after that he says, "Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation."
It is both startling and encouraging that those who have just been scolded for their lack of faith are now entrusted with preaching the gospel to the whole world.  A great way to show us that God's grace, not human effort, is the most important element in spreading the Good News.  Anytime we are tempted to pat ourselves on the back for being one of God's chosen, it's humbling to know that God will work with just about anything.  Anytime we are inclined to beg off because we haven't got what it takes, it's good to know that God accomplishes salvation despite human weakness.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


When we were in Galilee we went out on the Sea of Tiberius in a replica of the kind of boat that Peter, James, and John used in their fishing business (one of them in the lower right hand corner is wearing a baseball cap.)  John, in the last chapter of his Gospel (21:1-8) tells us that even after encountering the Risen Jesus, some of the disciples went back home to their fishing business, a good warning to us readers that a move from belief in the Risen Jesus to action based on that belief cannot be taken for granted.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gettin' Dark

Remain with us
It is nearly evening
and the day is almost over.

The two disciples had lost hope and were on the way back to Emmaus.  They are so heartened by the words of the stranger who has joined them on the road that they beg him to join them for dinner.  They recognize the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:13-35.)  We can make their prayer our own whenever we feel the darkness closing in on us. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fresh Faith

Neither Mary Magdelene's report of seeing the Risen Christ nor Peter's seeing the empty tomb brings the disciples to believe that Jesus has risen.  Their witness, however, did prepare the disciples to believe readily in the Risen Christ when he appeared to them on Easter evening (John 20:19-31.)  Thomas, who wasn't there that first evening is even more incredulous than the others had been. When he does come to faith he exclaims it in titles higher than can be found in any of the four Gospels, "My Lord and my God!"
John concludes the passage by telling us his readers that he has recorded these signs "that you may have faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this faith you may have life in his name."

Monday, April 17, 2017

Abundant Life

As I was checking out at the market Wednesday before Easter this lily caught my eye.  There was only one bloom on it, but it looked promising.  Without losing my place in line, I stretched over a table and caught hold of it and slid it to me. Each day a new bloom kept opening up.  Last evening when I leaned over near it to pick something up, the fragrance was grand.
The lily is a symbol of the abundant life the Risen Jesus shares with us.  Our name for the day of his resurrection comes from Eostre the pagan goddess of the dawn and of fetility. Lilies, like eggs and bunnies, were symbols associated with her. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunrise

We live in the resurrection's new creation.  This is the source of our Easter hope.  We are raised with Jesus beyond the troubles of this world, beyond the whims of politicians and the vicissitudes of history.  Evil no longer has any real power over us.  We don't pretend that war and genocide never happen, we don't close our eyes to prejudice and discrimination.  But because of the radical transformation that the death and resurrection of Jesus makes in each of us and in our universe, Easter graces us with untouchable hope and floods us with a joy so deeply felt that nothing on the surface of this world can reach it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday Watch

I am sure God is here,
right beside me.
I cannot be shaken.

So my heart rejoices,
my body thrills with life,
my whole being rests secure.

You will not abandon me to Sheol,
nor send your faithful one to death.
You show me the road to life:
boundless joy at your side for ever.

(Psalm 16:8-11, ICEL translation)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good? Friday

Not a sorrowful day.  A triumphant day!  That's why on this day for centuries we have used John's Passion account.  From beginning to end Jesus is in charge, "I lay down my life and I take it up again; no one takes it from me."  Suffering and evil have no real power over God's Son nor over us whom he has made God's sons and daughters.  That's why this Friday is "Good."  We have a savior we can count on. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The most beautiful?

Beauty will save the world.

I have received so many gorgeous sunrises and sunsets from Mother Nature, that yesterday I couldn't make up my mind which was the most beautiful.  This autumn sunrise from several years ago comes close.  It came to mind while I was walking this morning.  I was able to find it in ten years of pictures because I named it after one of my oldest friends who was visiting at the time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

10 Years Old

I told people that this blog was ten years old today, but when I went back to the beginning I saw that I had begun it on April 9.  I jumped through the entries for the ten years and made some observations.
As many readers tell me, the pictures are great.  They are so often grace that I talk about "receiving" them rather than "taking" them.  I couldn't pick out the most beautiful, but the one I remember best is July 31, 2007, and the most astonishing one was September 29, 2014.  "Beauty will save the world."
The first entry was about joy, the infallible sign of the presence of God.  On May 31, 2007, I was already repeating "Be Still" and ignoring that advice by writing longer and longer entries.  Contemplation as an important theme began to show up in July of that first year.
I wrote about dimensional ways of thinking about heaven on December 16, 2011 (though I found a reference to it in an old homily written in 1970.)  By December 31, 2013 I was writing that we must be a mystic or nothing, and on November 19 of that year I wrote about the Cosmic Christ.
As the entries began to get shorter I find on November 26, 2016, "Love Who love us thank You.," a prayer that I had begun to use several years earlier when I survived a heart attack.  On April 11 of this year I wrote about the other world's being woven into and through this world, a notion that has enriched my thinking since I read Anam Cara in 2004.
I thank God for my years in retirement here on the Lake and for the blessing that this blog has been for me.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fused Worlds

"The eternal is not elsewhere; it is not distant.  There is nothing as near as the eternal....The eternal world and the mortal world are not parallel, rather they are fused....woven into and through each other."  John O'Donohue, in his marvelous book, Anam Cara,  points out how important this notion is to Irish spirituality.  I find it very helpful in meditating on Easter, the Risen Jesus moving easily back and forth between these fused worlds.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Other World Breaking In

Only in Matthew's account of the empty tomb (28:1-5) is there a great earthquake and an angel like lightning rolling the stone away from the entrance.  He means to show us that Christ's resurrection is  earth shattering.  It is not just something that happens so that you and I can go to heaven.  It is heaven breaking into our world and gradually transforming the human race and all of creation into something good and true and beautiful.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hold Us Close

We pray, "Melt our hearts like April snow" (with apologies somewhat to Johnny Mathis.)

Saturday, April 8, 2017


A still morning by the Sea of Galilee.

Friday, April 7, 2017


Spring or winter?!
"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me!" cries Jesus from the cross in Matthew's Passion Account.  Matthew reports the words also in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, the way Jesus would have prayed Psalm 22 by memory during his lifetime.  The psalmist describes the horrible things that are happening to him, but in the last verses he expresses his trust in God and concludes:  "My soul lives for the Lord!  My children will serve, will proclaim God to the future, announcing to peoples yet unborn, 'God saves.'"
We must not use this expression of hope at the end to tone down the raw aloneness of verse 1.  This psalm on the lips of Jesus (and in its Old Testament usage) concerns real suffering, real abandonment, and real death.
Jesus within us enables us, whatever our passion, to cry with him these words of abandonment.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Obedient to Death

Plum blossoms on an untended tree in the neighborhood.
To look even more closely at the meaning of the Christ's Passion, we choose to use St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians 2:6-11 as the second reading for Sunday.  Though he was God Jesus emptied himself and God filled him up.  "Flesh and blood, he humbled himself, obeying to the death, death on a cross."   Matthew's emphasis on Jesus' choosing to do the Father's will is reinforced.   "For this very reason God lifted him high." 
(quotes are from the 1995 translation by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Humble King

The Mount of Olives was the first place we visited in the Holy Land.  Jesus came from this direction when he entered Jerusalem riding an ass.  The tombs in the foreground would not have been there nor the gold dome of a mosque which was built much later.
The ass was an ancestor of the present day donkey, an appropriate animal for a humble king.  In Matthew's Gospel (and in Mark's) this is Jesus' first time in Jerusalem.  His reputation has preceded him.  Matthew says, "the whole city shook."  The verb he used in Greek is the same one used to indicate the effects of an earthquake.
(clicking on the picture enlarges it)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Asking God

Another early spring flower clinging close to the ground while today's wild lake splashes near them.
We learn what's necessary in prayer by listening to Jesus in the olive grove.  We may beg God with all our heart to spare a life or heal a heart, but Jesus shows us to ask always with the understanding that we only want it if it is God's will.  Prayer helps us to line up our will with God's will.  It's a hard lesson to learn when someone we love is threatened. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Your Will Be Done

Georgia O'Keefe's Black Cross, New Mexico.
Suffering and death have no value in themselves.  The Gospel writers spend very few words describing the pain  that Jesus experiences.  They have much more to say about its meaning.  That's what we spend time with in our prayer.
Matthew stresses Jesus' obedience to his father's will.  In the olive grove Jesus prays, "My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me.  Yet not as I will but as you will."  Matthew is the only Gospel writer who gives the words that Jesus prays the second time.  It's as though in the meantime Jesus realizes that his death is part of his father's plan.  "My father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, your will be done."  Those last words are in the prayer that Jesus taught us to say to our father.