Hosanna and destiny

Large EDIT Palms for Palm Sunday.jpgEach week at mass we pray these words aloud in song or prayer…

Hosanna, in the highest!

Today the words take on a deeper meaning as we celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

There are studies upon studies to reveal just what lengths humans will go to in order to Continue reading

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Least ones

syrian-migrant-boy-turkeyThen they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’  – Matthew 25:44

You have likely seen the dramatic photos of a little boy above, all over the internet right now. This precious little one appears to be asleep – think of all the toddlers Continue reading

You shall not kill

no-killing_designA question has nagged me all during Lent, and now sits front and center on Good Friday. That question is: why do we kill one another?

Well, why do we kill one another? The Fifth Commandment states: “You shall not kill.” This seems very clear, but as human beings we seem to find numerous ways to rationalize a great deal of killing, and even more ways of denial when it comes to deaths we might be able to prevent. Consider how poverty, hunger, drugs, lack of medical care, human trafficking, the death penalty, torture, and war are the tip of the iceberg.

thou-shall-not-kill-2People die every day and not all of them are killed, but we will focus on those who are killed. I’m going to back up for a moment and pose my original question again: why do we kill one another?

We kill one another all the time, and seemingly with great ease. A few things that come to mind are the great bargains on the clothes we like to wear, getting good prices on flights, putting out-of-season produce on our tables, shaking our heads – whether with Continue reading

From Death into Life

(On November 2 the Church celebrates the Feast of All Souls, the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. This is an essay that came to me last week, about beauty, life, impermanence, death, and eternal life.)

1384871_10201644674212350_529133338_nThe air was crisp and cold as I arrived at work that day, a slight breeze that made my cheeks tingle. I shivered slightly and gazed upward as I exited my car, feeling awe as I glanced at the towering maple at the edge of the parking lot. Its shimmering gold and red leaves determinedly clinging to branches that extended like an extravagant and colorful awning over my vehicle.

At the end of the workday a still-blue sky greeeted me, but it was showing hints of dimming, and the breeze had stilled. Pausing at the door, I inhaled deeply and took in the feeling that comes from that certain scent of autumn.  As I walked to my car, I noticed the carpet of fallen yellow leaves at my feet. Crunch, crunch, with each footfall, crunch crunch. CRUNCH. Must have been an acorn that time! It was as if nature had installed an early warning system, to alert my car to my presence.

Looking skyward, I found that the brilliantly colored canopy of maple that had captivated me earlier in the day was a bit more sparse. A bit?! All those leaves that seemed to tightly grip the branches a few hours earlier had finally accepted the decision to let go. The image of them floating down to the ground, like jewels cast from the hand of a generous monarch to the peasants at their feet. At that moment, all I could feel was sadness that the remarkable palette of color that has been spanning the sky for a few weeks was almost gone.

1421635_10201684585690112_2062429808_n-1Almost to my car, with fallen leaves fanning out in every direction underfoot, I heard the words these words in my heart:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. John 12:24

That gorgeous towering maple has been growing for more years than I can imagine. Once part of a forest, it remains, sitting at the edge of a church parking lot.  The tree, God’s patient and loyal sentinel, continues to keep watch with patience and dignity.

My sense of sadness began to lift as I stood next to my car. The fallen leaves, like the grain of wheat, remind me of the impermanence of one aspect of life, and the eternity of all life. A sense of remarkable beauty, consolation and peace encompassed my being. Life into death into life.

In November the Church remembers its saints and its beloved deceased in a special way. I am grateful for the reminder of how death is a part of life, seen on that day through the lens of fallen leaves, and wheat.

Good Friday

IMG_0216Today is a day of suffering and death. Whether we realize it or not, both suffering and death unite us; these are things we all share, whether we want to or not. And who wants to suffer or die? Or to watch those whom we love, suffer or die? And then there is betrayal.

Rich, poor, black, white, Catholic, atheist, Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative. We all suffer, we all die. And most likely, we are all betrayed at some point in our lives; generally more than once, and in ways that shock and astound us.

IMG_0218What kind of God would want to come to be one of us and experience all of these things? I can’t imagine, but I am deeply grateful for a God who has done this for us. This is not about the hairshirt, making ourselves suffer, and other self-inflicted atonement related choices. I actually am not down with that, if you pardon my choice of phrase. Remember, we did discuss that at the beginning of Lent.

The two photos are from the blog, Jerusalem Hills Daily Photo, where Dina serves up photos, information, and wisdom. You can read more about what these photos are by going over there. Hint: only evidence of crucifixion. Not Jesus’ crucifixion though.)

Given that we are all faced with such things, I am grateful for a God that unites with us in suffering and death, and then offers the gift of eternal life. That all sounds nice, but the reality is that there is so much pain out there, I see it everywhere. And then I wonder , is there hope also? I can’t help but hold onto it, like a piece of styrofoam keeping me afloat on a tumultuous sea.

This day makes no sense in so many ways, no matter what I have just said. And yet, conversely, without this day, life as I understand it makes no sense at all either.