Twenty-third Sunday of the Year (B)

Is 35:4-7; Psalm 145; Jas 2:1-5; Mk 7:31-37

The promises of the first reading are arresting, consoling, comforting, encouraging and — fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  We don’t have to take time over a Christology lesson here.  The first reading and gospel make us feel we are at Christmas Eve mass at Mepkin with the cornucopia of promise and fulfillment readings that usher us into our celebration of Jesus’ nativity!!  And so our souls give praise to God for loving us and acting in our behalf as demonstrated in Jesus’ birth, ministry, passion, death, resurrection, ascension and sending forth the Spirit.

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Brothers Juan and Martin’s Entrance into Novitiate

Some 4000 years ago and 8000 miles from Mepkin, God appeared to a certain Abraham in the flourishing city of Ur of the Chaldeans.  God invited him to leave his country, his kindred and his father’s house and come to a land that God would show him.  Reflecting on this story some 2000 years later, St Paul remarked that through Abraham’s obedience God was able to make of him the Spiritual Father of us all.  Moving ahead another 400 years, we find John Cassian in the Egyptian desert sitting at the feet of Abba Paphnutius.  The old man is telling the young monk that this call of Abraham is still very much alive and is at the heart of the monastic vocation.  We, too, Paphnutius enunciates, are called to leave our country, our kindred and our father’s house and to follow Christ even to death on the cross.

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Job 38:1, 8-11;  II Corinthians 5:14-17;  Mark 4:35-41

Be still, my soul: the Lord is at your side…. Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end…. Be still, my soul…. Be still, my soul…. Be still, my soul.

What amazing words we sang after our five minutes of reflection and prayer on the tragedy which has occurred in our midst in these last days.  What a powerful Gospel to hear on this first Sunday after such a senseless massacre of human life in our city.  Quiet, be calm, be still, Jesus cries out.  Can we hear him?  Can we repeat: Be still, my soul…. Be still, my soul when everything within us is in turmoil, in anguish, in deep sorrow and deep anger?  There is only one thing that gets us through these kinds of tragedies: our faith.  As we sang last night: when we pass through the storms of life, increase our little faith.  These are not our words to others, these are words to ourselves.  We are not preaching to others, we are speaking to our own souls: Be still, my soul: the Lord is at your side…. Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below.

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Isaiah 35:1-10;  II Corinthians 4:13 – 5:10  John 14:1-9c

“What a piece of work is a man!  How noble in reason!  How infinite in faculty!  In form and moving how express and admirable!  In action how like an angel!  In apprehension how like a god!  The beauty of the world!  The paragon of animals!  And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

Father Christian Aidan Carr, Conventual Franciscan for 31 years and Trappist monk for another 46, spent all his life grappling with this question.  And his great gift was to lead others to face it, uncomfortable as this always is.  What is this quintessence of dust?  We are never finished with all the real questions of life, nor was Christian.  Even on his death bed he declaimed this Shakespearian monologue by Hamlet in perfect diction.  What is this quintessence of dust?  We go from insight to insight, from partial grasp to partial grasp.  As with the divine reality, so human life is a mystery before which we constantly are called upon to fall down and take off our shoes.  In that context, what are some of the intimations of truth we can glean from the life and the wisdom of the man who lies before us?  What legacy does he leave with us?

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Fifth Sunday of Lent (A) ~ March 22, 2015

1st Reading Ez 37:12-14: Open your graves/put my spirit in you
Psalm 130: With the Lord there is mercy & fullness of redemption

2nd Reading Rom 8:8-11: The Spirit of God will give life to mortal bodies
Gospel Jn 11:1-45: Raising of Lazarus. Thomas said “let us also go to die with him…untie him…let him go free.”

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is a turning point in the unfolding of Jesus’ travel to Jerusalem and ultimately his death. This “SIGN” (the seventh sign in the gospel of John) cements the fear among both religious and government leaders that brings them to the conclusion that Jesus must be exterminated. It is quite clear that none of us can restore another person to life. Yet Jesus has done so in this passage. And it is not jealousy of that power or ability, but rather the fear flowing from the assumption that their own power would be compromised, by allowing Jesus to live, that initiates the circumstances we now know as Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.

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Brother Michangelo’s Funeral ~ March 4, 2015 Given by Abbot Stan

Lamentations 3:17-33; Philippians 4:4-9; Matt 11:25-30

Jesus tells us in several places in the Gospels that unless we become like little children we will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And in today’s Gospel Jesus models for us what it means to be child-like. It does not mean to be childish. Nor to be superficial or without depth. It means to speak what you feel and to feel what you see with unveiled eyes, with faces turned outward and not focussed within. And so Jesus can cry out in awe and wonder: I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

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