Friday, February 27, 2015
"Jesus led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. (Mk 9:2)" For Moses, Elijah, and many of us mountains are the place to meet God. This view from Delphi down to the Gulf of Corinth was for me an experience of the Divine. I grew up in the mountains where I often met God.
Jesus chose a mountain top to let his apostles see his divinity shining out of his humanity. He invites us to a high mountain.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Reaching my 79th birthday three months after a heart attack and open heart surgery provokes some soul searching questions about what God has in mind for me. I woke during the night remembering some of the thinking I went through before retiring.
A big influence on my thinking then and still is this quote I came across years ago from Dorothy Day when she was thinking about her retirement:
"Buddhists teach that a person's life is divided into three parts: the first part for education and growing up; the second for continued learning, through marriage and raising a family, involvement with the life of the mind, the senses, and the spirit; and the third period, the time of withdrawal from responsibility, letting go of the things of this life, letting God take over."
I pray today that I can keep doing that, even more completely
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
After Jesus is transfigured before his apostles "a cloud overshadowed them." In the Holy Land much of life depends on the regular cycle of rains from October to April. The cloud was a symbol of life and hope. Since God was the ground of life and hope, the cloud became also a symbol of the divine presence.
The cloud makes us stand in awe of the Mystery. It reveals God's presence while at the same time it veils God's presence. We cannot grasp a cloud. We cannot fully grasp the Divine Mystery. We let God overshadow us.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
This is the monastery of the Temptation of Christ in the Desert. (clicking on picture enlarges it.)
In his extremely brief account Mark puzzles us by telling us that Jesus was "with the wild animals." An appealing explanation that I came upon only this week is that this is intended as a reference to the "Peaceable Kingdom" (Isaiah 11: 6-9.) Daniel Harrington, S.J. says, "His apparently peaceful coexistence with the wild beasts points forward to the new creation that Jesus' death and resurrection will bring about."
As we follow Jesus into the forty days of Lent we want to keep our eyes fixed on that new creation.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
It was summer. A group of us were waiting outside for the mother and sister to arrive. When we told them that the young man had died in an accident, his mother and sister immediately threw themselves to their knees, screaming and moaning. They scooped up fistfuls of dirt and threw it over their heads.
I had never seen such an extreme expression of grief and sorrow.
I found a passage in Jeremiah the Prophet where God predicts war that will bring death to the people, "Put on sackcloth, daughter of my people, roll in ashes as for an only son. (6:26)"
We put ashes on our heads to express our deep sorrow for our sins.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I'm going out soon to eat pancakes, a traditional Fat Tuesday practice. Donuts are also a traditional Mardi Gras practice in some culture. How about miniature tangerines for Mardi Gras! My tree is producing plenty. I must say, though, their taste is more suited to Lent than the feasting beforehand.
Plenty of cultures celebrate Mardi Gras in a much more elaborate way with parties and fantastic parades. When I visited San Juan, Puerto Rico, a few years ago, I was surprised that their celebration of "Three Kings" (Epiphany) lasted a long time and ran right into Mardi Gras, weeks before Ash Wednesday.
Feasting is more a part of our Catholic tradition than fasting.
Friday, February 13, 2015
"It is the Lord who speaks: come back to me with all your heart....Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn (Joel 2:12-13.)" This first reading for Ash Wednesday demands an interior conversion, not just exterior practices of penance, such as the Jewish practice of tearing your clothes or our practice of marking our foreheads with ashes.
God is asking us as a whole people to change our hearts, "Proclaim a solemn assembly, call the people together, summon the community...." Our sinning has damaged the whole people. It is as a community that we repent with all our heart.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
A leper approaches Jesus and says, "If you will, you can make me clean (Mk 1:40)" A perfect prayer. He expresses his faith in the power of Jesus to heal him. At the same time he surrenders to the will of Jesus.
It is a prayer that every sick person can make their own.
Friday, February 6, 2015
Mark shows Jesus as a man of action. In the first chapter of his Gospel, Jesus heals "the man with an unclean spirit," Peter's mother-in-law, a leper, and "many who were sick with various diseases." Even though Mark says that Jesus "went throughout Galilee proclaiming the message," he stresses what Jesus does more than what he preaches.
A quick look at this as well as the other Gospels shows us that Jesus is on our side against illness. In my recent sickness I was able to surrender myself to his healing which came to me in doctors and nurses and the love of family and friends.
Monday, February 2, 2015
I kept my 8-week-after-surgery appointment this morning in Morgantown with my cardiac surgeon, Doctor Kim. Everything is ok. I am free to do a lot of things that I haven't been doing, such as celebrate Mass and drive.
Mother Nature, however, has not set me free entirely. Outside my back door and most of my driveway is a sheet of ice. My neighbor tells me the whole neighborhood is like that.
I am deeply grateful to God for bringing me through this difficult time and trust God to continue mending me in every way. Please keep up your prayers.