Surely God is with us

Tuesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time

From “Hymnal for the Hours” by Weber 2014

The geese are starting to migrate. According to Black Mountain News, they’re taking their time, molting and fattening themselves up for the journey south. Their honking filled my morning sky as the sun lit the undersides of their wings orange and yellow. Not a bad way to start the day.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise!

Thoughts from the Liturgy of the Hours

You, O Lord, established the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. But how often I take it for granted, hiding my eyes from the book of nature that presents your greatness to my eyes as clearly as the words of Scripture. The world wakes, and I wake with it. In silence. Mystery. Poetry and song.

Dawn finds me watching, crying out for you

From today’s Mass

Turn your eyes O God our shield, and look on the face of your anointed one; one day within your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere – Entrance antiphon. And from the Collect: Fill our hearts with the warmth of your love.

From the Gospel of Matthew, our Lord reminds us how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Like a camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle.

Someone told me years ago that there was a minor gate into Jerusalem that was so small that a man could only fit through it unburdened of his possessions. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. But as Stephen King once said, “if it isn’t, it should be.” In any case, we can agree with Job that “naked I came from my mother’s womb; naked I shall depart.” We tend to focus on all of these things that we can’t take with us instead of those we can: Faith. Hope. Love.

From Divine Intimacy #268

You have loved me from all eternity. How unfathomable! When I think of eternity sometimes I get this numinous feeling of its vastness opposed to my nothingness, and I’m overwhelmed. But God has thought of us and loved us…forever. Before we actually came to exist. He knew us. Loved us. Always.

Lord, teach me to love others with that love, without counting the cost.

We love counting the cost too much. But to live the Gospel is to live in contradiction to this calculating human logic. We’re blind to the fact that we’re often more like the serf who was forgiven a lost fortune by his lord, then went out and had one of his friends thrown in jail for not repaying some measly sum.

Forgive us our trespasses in exactly the same way we forgive those who trespass against us, Lord. That’s how it’s going to work. It’s tragically funny that we pray that prayer at times when we haven’t forgiven our brother from the heart, leaving our gift at the altar, and in truth we’re praying for God to, as my drill sergeant in basic training used to say, “give us what we damn need.”

How inconvenient that we’re called by our Beloved, not just to throw money at problems of justice (which are always the problems of real people), whether it’s a five or a fifty…but to throw ourselves at them. Our hearts naturally reject the command to see God in everyone.

EV. REE. WUN.

Especially those hardest to love.

O my selfish, demanding nature! Cast off this demand from me for personal justice, respect and consideration, Lord. If I’m judged as I so often judge, I’ll never see your face. Teach me instead to love others as you have loved me. When I was far from you. When I was unloveable.

Wherefore should any set thee love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said), “And human love needs human meriting: How hast thou merited — of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot? Alack, thou knowest not how little worthy of any love thou art! Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, Save Me, save only Me?” (Hopkins, Hound of Heaven)

Jesus, you loved me when I was far from you, even when I didn’t love you, and even now when my love can be so fickle and weak. Help me to love others as you have loved me. As Rich Mullins wrote in his song Hard to Get:

You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that’s not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then
.

Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don’t see the blood that’s running in Your sweat

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You’re up there just playing hard to get?

They won’t if we love Him in them.

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