A big thanks to Jessie Carty for publishing my poem, “After a Mid-December Wedding” in her new journal Then and If.

Life as Participation by Richard Rohr

After conversion, you don’t look out at reality; you look out from reality. In other words, God is not “out there”; you are in God and God is in you. You are in the middle of Reality! You’re a part of it. It’s a mystery of participation. After his conversion experience, Paul is obsessed with the idea that “I’m participating in something that’s bigger than me.” In fact, he uses the phrase “in Christ” around one hundred sixty times to describe this organic unity and participation in Christ. Paul has the best one-liner of all to describe himself after conversion: “I live no longer, not I; but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Now that’s a transformed person!

This is a completely different experience of life. I don’t have to fully write my private story. It’s being written with me and in me. I am already a character on the stage. I am being used, I am being chosen, I am being led. You will know that after conversion. You will know that your life is not about you; you are about life. You are about God. You’re an instance in both the agony and the ecstasy of God that is happening inside of you, and all you can do is say yes to it. After transformation, it’s not about doing it right; it’s about doing it with pure intention. It’s not about being correct; it’s about being connected.

After conversion, you don’t experience self-consciousness so much as what the mystics call pure consciousness. Self-consciousness implies a dualistic split. There is me over here thinking about that over there. The mind remains dualistic until you have a mystical experience. Then the subject/object split is overcome. You can’t maintain it forever, but you’ll know it once in a while, and you’ll never be satisfied with anything less. In unitive experience, you’re freed from the burden of self-consciousness; you are living in, through, and with another. That’s the same as the experience of truly being in love. Falling and being in love, like unitive experience, cannot be sustained at the ecstatic level, but it can be touched upon and then integrated within the rest of your life.

True union does not absorb distinction, but actually intensifies it. The more one gives one’s self in creative union with another, the more one becomes one’s self. This is mirrored in the Trinity: perfect giving and perfect receiving between three who are all still completely themselves. The more one becomes one’s True Self, the more capable one is of not overprotecting the boundaries of one’s false self. You have nothing to protect after transformation, and that’s the great freedom and the great happiness we see in converted people. There’s no “little richard” here that I need to protect because it’s precisely that little richard that got in the way, and has now passed away–with no noticeable losses. Or as Paul puts it, “Because of Christ, I now consider my former advantages as disadvantages . . . all of it is mere rubbish if only I can have a place in him” (Philippians 3:7-8).

**

In our lives, Lord, you make wondrous things happen that deeply impress us; then as time passes, we forget. Father, deepen my faith in you and my trust in your love and care for me, so I may be strong when difficult times occur that will test my love and loyalty to you. I ask for this grace in Jesus’s name, Amen.

-from Stories of Jesus

THE WAR CONTINUES by Robert Barron
As Christians we rejoice for Jesus Christ is Lord. God is King. Sin and death have been defeated. At the same time, we mustn’t succumb to a “cheap grace” interpretation of Christianity, whereby Christ is risen and all is well. As Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Notice the future tense!

The definitive battle has been won, but the war continues. St. Paul knew this well. His strategy, as we know, was to go to synagogues first, for the message he had was a distinctively Jewish message: that the long-awaited Messiah had come.

Many Jews listened – and this was the beginning of Paul’s church. We hear that in Antioch practically the whole city gathered to listen to Paul and Barnabas. But “when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.” Please don’t fall into an anti-Semitic trap here, for many of the Jews did listen to him. But from the beginning, this message was opposed.

Why? The most basic reason is that acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus means that your life has to change. For many this is liberating good news, but for others it is a tremendous threat. If Jesus is Lord, my ego cannot be Lord. My country cannot be Lord. My convictions or culture cannot be Lord.

The Resurrection is the clearest indication of the Lordship of Jesus. This is why the message of the Resurrection is attacked, belittled, and explained away. The author of Acts speaks of the “violent abuse” hurled at Paul. What was Paul’s reaction to this? He “shook the dust from [his] feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium” where he was “filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”

We’re up against a great mystery here. We are called to announce the good news to everyone, but not everyone will listen. Once we’ve done our work, we should move on and not obsess about those who won’t listen. Why do some respond and some don’t? Finally, that’s up to God.

**

Father, grant us the grace to be humble and content to place ourselves at your service. You know the role you want us to play in your kingdom. Following where you lead is the only sure way to find success and enjoy the adventure. We ask your grace to know this, in Jesus’s name, Amen.

-from Stories of Jesus

 

Father, Jesus offered us the greatest gift he could–Himself as the food for ourselves–and the people’s rejection of that gift broke His heart. Yet many Christians do the same thing today by reducing the gift of Christ’s body and blood to near symbolism. Father, help us to understand and accept Jesus as He is and never let us be a disappointment to Him! We ask this in His name, Amen.

-from Stories of Jesus

The Path of Waiting

An excerpt from Henri Nouwen’s Finding My Way Home

Passion is a kind of waiting – waiting for what other people are going to do. Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say “Yes” or “No”. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: he had to wait for their response. What would they do? Betray him or follow him?

In a way, his agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of being out of control and of having to wait. It is the agony of a God who depends on us to decide how to live out the divine presence among us. It is the agony of the God who, in a very mysterious way, allows us to decide how God will be God. Here we glimpse the mystery of God’s incarnation. God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses.

.. . And that is the mystery of Jesus’ love. Jesus in his passion is the one who waits for our response. Precisely in that waiting the intensity of his love and God’s is revealed to us.

**

and yes, we got palms at Mass

Gospel Jn 11:45-56

Many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees
and told them what Jesus had done.
So the chief priests and the Pharisees
convened the Sanhedrin and said,
“What are we going to do?
This man is performing many signs.
If we leave him alone, all will believe in him,
and the Romans will come
and take away both our land and our nation.”
But one of them, Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, said to them,
“You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.

So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews,
but he left for the region near the desert,
to a town called Ephraim,
and there he remained with his disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near,
and many went up from the country to Jerusalem
before Passover to purify themselves.
They looked for Jesus and said to one another
as they were in the temple area, “What do you think?
That he will not come to the feast?”

Verse Before the Gospel See Jn 6:63c, 68c

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Jn 10:31-42

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.
Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.
For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
The Jews answered him,
“We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.
You, a man, are making yourself God.”
Jesus answered them,
“Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods”‘?
If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came,
and Scripture cannot be set aside,
can you say that the one
whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world
blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?
If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Then they tried again to arrest him;
but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan
to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained.
Many came to him and said,
“John performed no sign,
but everything John said about this man was true.”
And many there began to believe in him.

Verse Before the Gospel Ps 95:8

If today you hear his voice;
harden not your hearts.

Gospel Jn 8:51-59

Jesus said to the Jews:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
So the Jews said to him,
“Now we are sure that you are possessed.
Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.
But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Reading 1 Is 7:10-14; 8:10

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us!”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

  1. (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
    but ears open to obedience you gave me.
    Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
    then said I, “Behold I come.”
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
    To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
    and your law is within my heart!”
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
    I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
    Your justice I kept not hid within my heart;
    your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of;
    I have made no secret of your kindness and your truth
    in the vast assembly.
    R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2 Heb 10:4-10

Brothers and sisters:
It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats
take away sins.
For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 1:14ab

The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us;
and we saw his glory.

Gospel Lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

April 2015
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