Poem of the Week

17 Aug

This is a prayer-poem written by a woman mystic of the 1200s, Mechtildde of Magdeburg, from the book Praying With The Women Mystics by Mary T. Malone (Columba Press, 2013).

Why Not Soar?

You have the wings of longing.
You know the pull of hope.
You feel the flowing of desire.

So why not soar?

Fish cannot drown in water.
Birds cannot sink in air.
You cannot fall from my sight.

So why not soar?

Woman, I have adorned you.
Woman, I have delighted in you.
Woman, I have made my home in you.

So why not soar?

Be as the dove, I soar in her.
Lighten your heart, I soar in you.
Uplift your being, be an Easter song.

Why not soar?


 

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Image 15 Aug

Gospel Reflection for August 20, 2017, 20th Sunday Ordinary Time

14 Aug

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 56.1, 6-7; Romans 11.13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15.21-28

“It is not faith to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” Jesus said, but the Canaanite women said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” – Matthew 15.26-27

In both Matthew’s and Mark’s version of this gospel, Jesus refuses to help a Gentile mother who asks him to free her daughter from a demon. Both gospels preserve Jesus’ refusal, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” This saying insists Jesus’ mission is only to the Jewish people. In using the saying, Jesus not only refuses the woman’s request, his only refusal to help in the gospels, but he insults her. He uses an ethic slur. The saying makes her a dog.

How can Jesus, who everywhere else in the four gospels reaches out to sinners, lepers and crazy people, express such close-minded prejudice to this woman? This story reflects conflicts in Christian communities after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some Christian must claim Jesus taught the saying, “Don’t throw the children’s food to the dogs.” In both Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels, the woman counters with the truth of her own experience. “Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” At her house both messy children and hungry dogs eat. Her comeback makes space for children and dogs at the same table, for Jews and Gentiles. Her quick wit challenges the meaning of the saying and shows exclusion is not Jesus’ teaching.

What practices today exclude you or fail to nourish you? What experiences have broadened whom you accept into your house or parish community?

Poem of the Week

11 Aug

August 15 is the summer feast of Mary.

Read this poem aloud to bring back to your heart all the ways we have learned to praise the Mother of God and our mother.

Lines for a Feast of Our Lady
by Alice Smith, CSJ

What shall be added to your praises?
The lip-worn, love-worn, heart-worn phrases
centuries out of choir and cell
and field and vineyard praise you well.
Like bells over the spinning earth
hour upon hour they tell your worth.
You are the Mother of Delight.
Over the sea you are the bright
star shining.  You are the ivory tower,
the ark of gold, the immortal flower
blossoming on a mortal root,
the good tree bringing forth good fruit.
You are the cloud raining the Just One.
Fair as the moon and bright as the sun,
out of the desert light of day
terrible as an army in array,
you come—the Gate of Heaven to heaven’s gate.
What can be added to your state?
The vast, uncountable choir of voices
down aisles of centuries rejoices;
in endless litany proclaims
the fertile flowering of your names.
Hell will not thank you nor death raise
its voice.  Only the living praise.
Then shed your grace upon the mind
that we here in these deeps may find
the words we seek, that like a vine
with strong roots in the soul may shine
the litany that climbs and grows
upon the lattice of the Rose.


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Gospel Reflection for August 13, 2017, 19th Sunday Ordinary Time

8 Aug

Scripture readings: 1 Kings 19.9,11-13; Romans 9.1-5; Matthew 14.22-33

“Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened. Beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his had and caught him.” – Matthew 14.29-30

This gospel reflects Christians struggles in the A.D. 80s between the experience of having Jesus among them in the flesh and the promise of his risen presence. How does Jesus continue with the community?

Peter puts Jesus to a test. He requests a miracle. “If this is really you, command me to come to you on the water.”  This if statement repeats the bystanders’ taunts to Jesus on the cross–“If you are the messiah, save yourself.”

Jesus quickly says, “Come.” The scene invites faith. It suggests the journeys of early Christians to baptism. An early Christian baptistry at Dura-Europa in Syria has this scene painted on its wall above a baptismal pool (A.D. 250).

Stepping into the water and the future requires faith for Peter and for all of us who follow. Boldly Peter steps our of the boat, outside the comfortable circle of disciples and friends in the boat. Immediately strong head winds and great waves take his attention off Jesus and fill him with fear and terror. As he falters, Peter cries out to Jesus, who saves him.

Where are you in over your head and faltering?  What do you cry out for?


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Poem of the Week

4 Aug

Gate A-4
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well— one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, shu-bid-uck, habibti? Stani schway, min fadlick, shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies— little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts— from her bag and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single traveler declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo— we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

Then the airline broke out free apple juice and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend— by now we were holding hands— had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate— once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.


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Gospel Reflection for August 6, 2017 Feast of the Transfiguration

31 Jul

Scripture Readings: Daniel 7.9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1.16-19; Mathew 17.1-9

“Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them u on a high mountain by themselves. He was transfigured before their very eyes. His face became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes bright as light.  Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.” – Matthew 17.1-3

In the transfiguration Peter, James, and John glimpse Jesus in glory, his divinity shining through his humanity. The three fall on the ground overcome with fear and awe. Words fail Peter. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary respond much the same way when Jesus appears to them after they find the tomb empty. The women hold his feet and worship him (Matthew 28.9).

Both the transfiguration and the resurrection are numinous experiences that take the witnesses beyond words. The creative love that lies at the heart of the evolving life of the universe touches the disciples on the mount of transfiguration and at the empty tomb.  The transfiguration embeds in the heart of the gospel narrative a post-Easter theological vision. The vision expresses who Jesus is and who we disciples are to be. We live in the future this scene envisions–Easter time.

How has a numinous, holy moment affected you? What have you carried with you from it?


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Poem of the Week

28 Jul

Plums, berries, apples, cherries, sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes. Write your own poem about them. Enjoy the colors and flavors of summer.

Write a poem on the refrigerator about something in your fridge.

 

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

William Carlos Williams, 1883-1963

 

 

 


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Gospel Reflection for July 30, 2017, 17th Sunday Ordinary Time

27 Jul

Sunday Readings: 1 Kings 3.5, 7-12; Romans 8.28-30; Matthew 13.44-52

“The kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid, and then in joy goes and sells every belonging and buys the field.”  – Matthew 13.44

Sunday’s gospel begins with a parable about buying and selling. The treasure in the field requires all one has to possess it. The choice to buy totally realigns the buyer’s life and resources. What treasure is worth selling all one has to find joy? What was the buyer looking and what did the buyer find?

Jesus lets us reveal ourselves in imagining what the treasure is. Is it family, spouse, purpose? Is it Jesus? Do I find a person who becomes an abiding source of joy in marriage. Do I find in Jesus and his mission a friendship and purpose worthy my life, love, and energy?

What treasure do you seek?  What does it reveal about you?


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