Morning Prayer

Good and Loving God – so far today, I am doing well.
I have not gossiped or lost my temper
I have not been greedy, grumpy, selfish, or over-indulged.
I have not whined, complained, cursed, or whimpered
I have not envied the possession of others
I have not thought ill of others
I am not aware of any sin or transgression
But I am just getting out of bed this morning
So, now, Lord, I am in need of your grace and help.

The backyard fence

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” So said Pope Francis as part of a papal audience. But it is not original to Pope Francis; he is quoting St. Jerome, the great biblical scholar and translator from the late 4th and early 5th century. What about you? What is your comfort level with Sacred Scripture? Where would you place yourself on the scale? Continue reading

Love well understood

The word “love” is certainly the topic of poetry, minstrels, Hallmark cards, stories, and life. But what do the Hebrew Scriptures have to say about love? Several weeks ago I mentioned the prayer, the Shema, speaking about the word “hear” or “listen”:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength“. (Dt 6:4-5).

But a key part of that prayer is to “love the Lord” to “ahavah the Lord.” As the popular song asks, “What’s love got to do with it.” The answer is everything – if love is properly understood.

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Heaven and Earth

We easily speak the phrase “heaven and earth.” But most of us have trouble thinking about the concept of heaven the way the Bible actually describes it. We tend to imagine it as a beautiful place where we go after we die, but it’s so much more than that. Heaven and earth—God’s space and humans’ space—were originally united as one. When humanity chose to go their own way, those two spaces were driven apart. Continue reading

Some thoughts

Today’s readings continue Micah’s challenge to the people of Jerusalem: “I remember the devotion of your youth.” There is something haunting about the phrase, hoisting up the image of our ventures, projects and endeavors that we begin with such enthusiasm, hope, and expectations. There is something inspiring about see a person years on that carries that same passion and hope for the now many years of efforts, the venture still ongoing. Continue reading

What else could go wrong?

We here in Florida, the current epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, are entering the heart of hurricane season. All seasoned Floridians are quietly watching the forecasts from the tropics and west of the Azores Islands. As the philosopher George Santayana remarked, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So in case someone has forgotten, our friends at NOAA are here to help us remember the past. Continue reading

Apostle to the Apostles

Magdalene Penitent
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo – Florence

Did you know that Mary Magdalene is mentioned 12 times in the gospels, more than most of the Apostles. She was present at the crucifixion and was the first witness to the Resurrection (John 20 and Mark 16:9). She was the “Apostle to the Apostles”, an honorific that St. Augustine bestowed upon her in the fourth-century, and possibly he was but repeating a moniker already in use.

Mary Magdalene has long been confused with other women in Scripture also named Mary as well as an anonymous women, the unnamed sinner (commonly thought to have been a prostitute) in Luke 7:36-50.  In time, the identities of all these women were conflated into one in the person of “Mary Magdalene, the repentant prostitute.” The first written evidence we have of this conflation  of Mary Magdalene being a repentant prostitute comes from Ephraim the Syrian in the fourth century. Continue reading

Who are my mother and brothers?

The reading from today’s gospel (with a few extra verses) and St. Francis of Assisi’s answer to the question.

20 Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. 21 When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” … 31 His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. 32 crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers* [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” 33 But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” 34 And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 35[For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3) Continue reading

Whole-hearted response

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. 48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. 49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 51 “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” (Matthew 13:44-52) Continue reading

Growing weary

We all have people in our lives with whom interaction leads to weariness. We get tired of hearing the same story, tirade, commentary, joke, response, the same sameness. We all have moments in our lives when “life” just adds up to makes us weary. We lack motivation, energy, enthusiasm, and sometimes are just bone tired. Maybe it is the realization that you have already explained how to do something, the same something, to the same person, and nothing changes. You grow weary and are on the road to not caring, emotional shutdown, and not a whole lot seems attractive or not engaging enough to actually get up and engage. Continue reading