Undivided Unity—The Trinity
When are we most aware of the Trinity in our lives? Think about it. When do we invoke Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? What images remind us of the Trinity? At a meeting that I attended this week, the leader began the prayer with the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” That was the prayer and he proceeded to explain why. Whatever we do next—at the meeting, in the morning when we wake up, at work, before our meals, at Mass, at prayer times—is done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We acknowledge that we are partners with God in continuing creation, in continuing relatedness. We acknowledge that the Father sent his Son who sent the Holy Spirit. They are so related, so connected, so in sync! No wonder then that so many images of the Trinity somehow display an “undivided unity.”
The life of the Trinity is on-going. It is not self-contained or self-absorbed, but ever flowing outward, touching and embracing all of creation, all of life in unity and communion. Listen this weekend to all the ways God delights in creation. As we continue to be active in God’s continuing acts of creation, do we take delight in God?
Wind, Love, and Breath
When I last visited Prague in the Czech Republic a few weeks ago, I became aware of my immense inheritance from the culture and language my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents knew and lived. It was a very emotional time for me. When my great-grandparents (on both sides of family) left their native land, they never returned to visit. They never had the opportunity that I have had to come to understand how language, food, customs, vegetation, and flowers form us and UNITE us. For me, this visit was a new Pentecost—a new way of seeing and understanding the importance of identifying with others—some so much like me and some so very different. Yet the sense of UNITY for me was profound. I was at home in so many ways.
What I left the country with was an aching heart, however, for the loss of faith. I wanted the Holy Spirit to come as a mighty wind and a fiery love to renew the faith I inherited from just such a country.
Pentecost is a good time to reflect on how the Holy Spirit is present, at work in our lives. Like those present in the Upper Room when they received the Holy Spirit, we are regularly gifted with the opportunity to hear other voices and to understand. In the midst of chaos, we are gifted with power to make a difference. At times of fear and despair, when we would rather hide and mind our own business, the Holy Spirit PUSHES us out to engage with the world, to renew the face of the earth. May our houses, our homes, and our hearts be ready to receive many people from different lands, languages, and ways of life. Some are already known to us. Others are not with us YET! Help us to see, touch, and meet Jesus Christ. Send us your Spirit, Lord, as a mighty wind, a fiery love, and gentle breath! Recreate in us a new sense of Unity as the Body of Christ on earth.
Ascensions in Our Lives
Look up! Look out! Receive power! Go out into the world! Preach in Jesus’ name!
These are the messages of the Ascension! They are the messages to us of how we are to ascend out of the depths of whatever binds us in darkness, despair, sadness, and paralysis. They are imperatives guiding us to new life, renewed hope and joy—to ascension.
Those who were present when Jesus took leave of this earth experienced a leave-taking, a despedida like none other. What gave them hope was the promise of the power of the Holy Spirit. They left Jesus’ presence, profoundly and keenly aware of God’s presence with them, a presence that filled them with joy and with enthusiasm for being witnesses who preach in Jesus’ name. May this be true for us this weekend. We pray that we be mindful of the various experiences of “ascension” in our own lives. We pray in gratitude for God’s guiding presence in our lives and God’s nudges to witness new life, new hope, and boundless joy!
When I was a child visiting my grandparents, Grandpa would come out to the car with us, watch all 9 of us pile in and then he would lean over the open window of my father’s side and just stay there talking and talking and talking. Most of the time, the children all fell asleep, but Mom and Dad would continue to indulge Grandpa in conversation. It was too hard for them to say “goodbye.”
I know this from my Benedictine aunties who frequently told me about how homesick my grandparents were after the second group of daughters left to go to the convent in Illinois. My parents would “haul us” over to lessen the grief.
Jesus had to say “goodbye” to those he loved immensely too! Goodbye really is a prayer and a blessing that says “God be with you.” And Jesus made that promise to his beloved. He told them that the Father would send his Advocate, the Holy Spirit to be with them, to teach them and to guide them in all they do. If they forgot, the Spirit would remind them. What does it feel like to be Spirit-filled? For me, these are times of passionate energy as well as calming silence. I feel the Spirit urging me to speak on behalf of others, a compelling nudge to not let my silence mean complicitness. I feel the Spirit giving me the patience I never knew that I had. I can’t explain where it came from because I resisted. I feel the Spirit in recognizing the goodness that is in me from those who helped to form me to be the person I am today—my family, my friends, the people I have come to know through my years of ministry in many different places. It is always hard to say “goodbye.” I keep hanging on to the door of the car too! I wish I could stay in that mood, in that place, with those people. I pray that God will fill my heart with peace, even in times of anxiety. I pray the blessing prayer—“God be with you” and God be with me.
“Behold, I make all things new.”
For me, it is very important to think of creation as ongoing. God isn’t finished creating. As Sisters of Divine Providence, we believe that Providence is God’s act of continuing creation, leading and guiding all of creation in recognizing the bounteous love of God.
Notice that the verb “make” is in the present tense. That means that God’s new creative action is happening now, in our time. And we are all participants in that creativity. New creation happens when a community of believers perseveres in loving as Christ loved. We are challenged to love as Jesus loved in the midst of violence, hatred, war, genocide, disasters and all the forces in life that threaten our capacity to hope for something new. To love generously and freely isn’t always easy; sometimes there is a cost and fear sets in. May we always trust that what God has planted in us as hope continues to bear fruit—continues God’s creation of the new.
Me, A Shepherd?
Most of us think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. However, the Greek word for “good” (kilos) refers not so much to the characteristic of the shepherd but more to the shepherd who is “good at” shepherding. So what would that look like? Who is actually good at shepherding?
When Jesus meets his disciples in his resurrected state, he tells them that love for him means that they “feed his sheep” and “tend his lambs.” As we follow Jesus, then, that is also our command. What then is the work of caring for his lambs and sheep? To be good at shepherding is to be good at bringing others closer to God.
Who are the people in our lives who are good at shepherding? When, where and with whom are we ourselves good at shepherding? Today and this weekend we pray that we continue to be attentive to the guidance of the voice of the Good Shepherd and that we follow the example of Jesus in all that we do. And we ask God to bless all those who are the Good Shepherds, the ones good at shepherding us in our lives.
The Miraculous Catch of Care
When I was a little girl, I liked to go fishing with my grandpa and grandma in our farm pond. We’d just sit and sit and stare at the cork, waiting for just a nibble. To catch something, even a sun perch, was such fun. But most of all, I liked the company of my grandparents. I had them all to myself!
What is it like to go fishing with Jesus? In this third apparition of Jesus, after his resurrection, his companions hear these words: Have you caught anything? Do you have anything to eat? Try on the other side. Come have breakfast. Do you love me? Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Follow me.
What do WE hear in these words?
Anne Osdieck calls the actions of Jesus “the miraculous catch of care.” Jesus cares about hunger. Jesus restores confidence in the ability to succeed in life-sustaining work. Jesus invites others to share food at breakfast.
Lord, you know that we love you! Help us to feed your lambs and tend your sheep. Help us to say YES to following you. Can we become followers who accept the invitation to be active participants in “the miraculous catch of care?”
Peace be with You!
“Peace be with you” is the most frequent greeting that the Risen Christ extends to whomever he meets. We are invited to extend this greeting of peace all who accompany us at each Mass we attend.
In John’s Gospel this greeting is followed with a SENDING: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” We experience the Risen Christ in our midst every time we offer the greeting of peace, or extend peace filled action to others. Peace is a calming—a calming of fears, a healing of doubts, and an expression of our desire for all to be well. When have you felt peace most profoundly? When do you bring peace to others? Do you bring calm and compassionate healing to others? As we experience peace in our lives, we are also sent to extend that peace to others. Happy Easter-time!
“Alleluia” is the one word we hear most often at the Easter Vigil and on Easter morning. Alleluia is another way of saying “praise the Lord.”
Easter invites us to use all of our senses in praising the Lord. We taste, touch, smell, feel and see Jesus throughout our Holy Triduum. In a matter of three days, we taste and see the goodness of the Lord in our reception of the Eucharist. We feel the sacrifice on the cross as we venerate the wood. We see the light of the fire taking us out of darkness. We dip deeply into the baptismal waters at the Easter Vigil and then get “sprinkled” with water throughout the Easter season. We smell the lilies—the new bursting blooms that signal new life in all forms.
All around us we witness newness in nature, in creation. What newness exists in us, in our bursting forth from our personal tombs? How are we witnessing Christ alive in each of us?
What does it mean to us to be an Easter people with “alleluia” as our song?
Will You BE THERE?
Palm Sunday initiates our observance of Holy Week. The liturgies of these holy days are filled with rich symbols and images that help us to remember. At the beginning of Lent this year, I invited all the RCIA candidates to find a cross and to keep it handy throughout Lent. This week we have the opportunity to accompany Jesus in his journey to the cross. We are invited to spend the week in a kind of retreat—a time to focus on how present we are to the events of Holy Week.
We carry palms, we raise them high. We reenact the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem as a prophet from Nazareth. We recognize the humility of an entrance on a donkey. We read the passion and participate as the crowd gathered. Do we identify with the words we speak? In what way? Are we like the apostles unable to stay awake and pray with Jesus in the garden? In what ways do we “fall asleep?”
When do we “wash the feet” of others? When do we “walk the way of the cross?” When have we felt lifeless, spiritless and deadened as if we were in a grave, a tomb? This week we retreat, as much as we are able, from regular activity to spend time in prayer and reflection. We can spend time thinking about all the people today who are experiencing their own way of the cross, suffering the most desperate situations—torture, total desperation, helplessness, bullying, physical abuse, and humiliation. We have the opportunity to BE THERE.