Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.

All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.

Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;

I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."

Periodically, I suppose, every one of us encounters a shocking, hard reality that threatens everything we thought was certain. One person has lived modestly, never indulged in alcohol or tobacco, but one day a doctor tells her, "Your cancer is terminal." Another works hard, lives honestly, pays his share of taxes and bills; and retiring, discovers he will live out his days in poverty.A third lives in a homogenized political society and discovers the world beyond her boundaries has invaded with tanks and artillery and destroyed everything she ever knew.
The fourth is an innocent man who has done nothing but good for others. But when he presents his case the judge replies, “What is truth?” Such was Jesus before Pontius Pilate.
Periodically I notice again that word we hear in our Eucharistic Prayers, betrayed. On the night before he was betrayed…. What a shattering word! It’s hard to probe its depths.
Jesus knew betrayal, and so he can speak to us of both Truth and Trust. He has met face to face the thieves and robbers who come only to steal and slaughter and destroy.

Throughout the Easter season the Church shocks us with the beauty and fearfulness of Saint John’s Gospel. His world is not cushioned by Social Security, Medicare, insurance policies or helpful police. It is a political world that veils its brutality in a sheer fabric of politesse, a veil that Jesus and his opponents rip to shreds in their struggle for souls.

When Jesus invites his disciples to come in and go out of his pasture, he is not offering them one package of security among many. He is desperately urging them to come with me now before it’s too late.

As I meet with Veterans in the Substance Abuse program I tell them very bluntly, 
“If you are not willing to do the spiritual work of healing, you will not survive. You must learn to speak the truth, listen to others, give more than you receive, and forget yourself. 
"Medicines might help and the VA can give you some. Ideas are useful and we’ll teach you a few. But you must turn your life and will over to the care of God today. Tomorrow never comes." 

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Jesus said:
"I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Once in Ireland, I saw a flock of sheep at a great distance, perhaps a mile or more. I could not see any one sheep, but I saw a mysterious whiteness like a solid cloud moving down a hillside. It seemed to narrow at one point as the flock squeezed through a narrow gap, and then spread again as they arrived on more level ground. I don’t think I knew what it was at first; it was so far away. Perhaps someone explained they are sheep.
Sheep instinctively move in flocks. Individually they are safer that way, especially when there is a shepherd to guide them. They are safer too in the sense that, if some are lost to wolves and lions, the flock will survive and reproduce. Isolated from one another the species would disappear.
I also see people moving like a vast, earth-bound cloud. Driven hither and yon by fear and desire, we are too much like sheep. The leader who uses fear, desire or both will find a ready following no matter how false he may be. Oddly, people vote for those who frighten them. The politician who casts his opponent as a fearful demagogue wins wide support, despite his own obvious demagoguery. People also vote for those who promise them much, despite the implausibility of the promises. They prefer dreams to reality.

Jesus promises only real human life, which is the way of sacrifice. He teaches us to abandon our childish ways, to work hard, to pay our bills and taxes cheerfully. Jesus invites us to drink the cup of sacrifice with him, and to taste its sweetness. He invites us to expect disappointment as we take up our crosses each day and follow in his steps. Our good work may, to all appearances, come to nothing. Our great sacrifices may seem to be futile. Saint Theresa of Avila famously complained, “If this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few!”
At the VA Hospital I have met more than a few Veterans who complained about the promise of golden retirement. It never came. Instead, they found illness, poverty and abandonment; their only remaining assets are the faith and courage they found in prayer.
Jesus never promises falsehood. That he cannot do. Finally, we remember that our Shepherd asks us to do nothing he has not already done for us.
I will lay down my life for the sheep…. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.

Saturday of the Third Week of Easter

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life

and no longer walked with him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"
Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.

We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Speaking perhaps with less conviction than Saint Peter, on a matter of less importance, I am convinced that the Church must always be involved in controversy. That seems to be our constant experience; and on those rare occasions when we weren’t up to our butts in crocodiles, we were probably not serving the gospel.

Jesus certainly surrounded himself in controversy. He not only challenged his opponents, he challenged his friends. He might have said as Saint Paul would later write to the Galatians: 
Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.
Controversy and its footman Violence followed Jesus. It was his intention to expose them, and to expose himself to them. His manner was neither to bully nor to out-shout. Rather, as Isaiah said, a bruised reed he will not break; a smoldering wick he will not quench. But Jesus spoke the truth to power and earthly power cannot abide the truth. He spoke truth to his enemies and his friends, and only those who clung to him, who believed in him regardless of what he said, could remain his followers.

Saint John explains this:
…to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

No one has ever said it is, or should, be easy to follow Jesus. Sometimes it is downright scary to be Catholic and Christian. But we cannot do otherwise. With Saint Peter we exclaim:
"Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal lifeWe have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Friday of the third week of Easter

ready for the Derby
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food,

and my Blood is true drink. 
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood

remains in me and I in him.

I have written much on this passage already during the past two years. You can find them in May of last year and April the year before.

Jesus’ words keep pushing deeper roots into my heart. Perhaps you know already that a priest loves the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament more than anything. Having sacrificed the opportunity of wife, children and grandchildren our affections turn toward the altar and the Eucharist. Kissing the altar is for me no longer a silly gesture; it is an act of love and, in its own way, sensual. Anything that touches the lips leaves a strong impression and the hard stone of the altar, dressed in white linens, sends a thrill through me as I begin and end the Mass.
Likewise eating the Body of Christ and drinking His Blood are substantial nourishment for me.

I work in a friendly, secular environment. I am responsible in the VA hospital for the spiritual care of Veteran’s and their families listed as Catholic. I meet many devout, practicing Catholics; but most of the patients listed as Catholic no longer attend church. Many quit attending even during the high school years. Some never attempted to connect with a parish after they settled in a new neighborhood. Some discovered love in alcohol and drugs, which have left them wasted. A few have joined Protestant denominations but prefer to be listed as Catholic. (Why I do not know.) More than a few say they don’t believe in “organized religion.” And some call themselves atheists. One fellow told me is an atheist like Steve Jobs.
HCE is the rule for Catholics: “Here Comes Everybody.”

When I make a “cold call” on a new patient, I never know what to expect. Will I meet a devout Catholic or an indifferent one? Will he be hostile or friendly? Will his family want my attention or prefer that I ignore them? Much depends upon the first impression that I make, or they make on me; and it doesn’t always go well. In every case I am sure this Veteran didn’t come to the hospital to see the chaplain.
So each day, in my personal prayer, in the Liturgy of the Hours and especially during the Mass, I must “put on the armor of Christ.” (Ephesians 6:11) It may look to others like a Roman collar; but to me it is a spirit of neighborliness, concern, fearlessness and hospitality. Entering the Veteran’s room, I hide my anxiety with a touch of wry humor, “Welcome to our hospital.”
Each day, I eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus. Fortified, I am ready to be a priest and Christian, Christ to the Veteran. 

Thursday of the third week of Easter

The Blessed Sacrament was
reposed on Saint Clare's
altar after Holy Thursday Mass
Jesus said to the crowds:
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him,
and I will raise him on the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They shall all be taught by God.

Jesus draws his citation from the writings of the prophet Jeremiah and Isaiah:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:33-34

 O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
   I am about to set your stones in antimony,
   and lay your foundations with sapphires.
 I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
   your gates of jewels,
   and all your wall of precious stones.
 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
   and great shall be the prosperity of your children.
 In righteousness you shall be established;
   you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
   and from terror, for it shall not come near you. 
Isaiah 54:11-14

These passages foretell something wonderful, an intimate knowledge of God within abundant peace and prosperity. In that place there will be neither oppression nor fear. 

This promise draws the faithful to the Church and the Eucharist. I see that peace settle upon the faces of Catholics as they attend the Mass and listen to the Eucharistic Prayer. Their faces are soft and content as they allow the words to reassure them of God’s abiding presence. If their minds wander, their hearts are peaceful as He speaks to them.

Jesus goes on to say,
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die.

When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist we feel the presence of Eternity. It is so close, it is within reach. Only a thin wall separates us from heaven.

In the hospital ministry I sometimes offer the Eucharist for the last time to patients who understand and accept that death is very near. We call the ritual Viaticum, meaning food for the journey. They can still swallow some food, receive general absolution for all their sins, and renew the vows of their baptism. The Eucharist then becomes food to carry them from one meal in this world to the next meal in eternity, just as the Holy Spirit is breath for this world and the next. 

When we share this Heavenly Banquet on Earth we also sup… on this mountain (where) the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear. Isaiah 25:6

Feast of Saint Mark

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
"Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.

Giotto's Saint Francis
preaching to the birds
13th century Franciscan preachers and artists delighted in Jesus’ parting command to preach the gospel to every creature. We have stories of Saint Francis preaching to the birds, who gratefully responded by flying in cruciform patterns over his head; and Saint Anthony, who preached by a river mouth to the minnows in the shallows, the fish in the deep and the whales out on the briny. Of course artists followed suit describing these wonders in lavish detail.

The 21st century should also delight in this mandate. We understand Jesus’ preaching command today as stewardship of the earth. We preach the Gospel without words as we develop ways to live in this world without wasting its precious resources. And that Good News is “heard” and “welcomed” by animate and inanimate nature. Indeed, as Saint Paul said, 
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God....
Geneticists tell us human beings are very much like other living creatures. The similarities are not accidental for we live on the same planet, breathe the same air and drink the same water. As the Book of Genesis tells us, we are "dirt" and to dirt we must return. (If I were an atheist I would suppose the whole purpose of living things is to generate more dirt; life is dirt's way of reproducing itself.) 

St Anthony preaching
to fish
It's hardly strange that the Lord commands us to preach to every living creature. Whether we're speaking of apes, fish, snails or the flowers of the field, they are all creatures like us, and each claims its place in the sun. Or its place in the dark. They are, in a sense, flesh and the Word became flesh to complete our destiny. 

As usual, Saints Francis and Anthony were way ahead of their time when they preached to the birds and fish. It's time we caught up with them by recreating the necessary infrastructures of human existence in conformity with the needs of Earth. 

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

My nephew and niece
baptized during the
2012 Easter Vigil

So they said to Jesus,
"Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

During his administration, President Nixon stabilized food prices in the United States with a permanent farm subsidy. The price of food would no longer rocket up and down by the laws of supply and demand. This made him popular with women voters who did most of the food shopping. So long as we are human we will feel anxiety about our daily bread. Anyone who can promise a steady supply of food -- be he Moses, Jesus or Nixon – will find a ready welcome.

But Jesus challenges every Jewish tradition and custom by placing himself squarely at the center of his new religion. He is not a lawgiver like Moses, a prophet like Elijah or a teacher like Qoheleth. Nor is he a legendary character like Samson, Jonah or Daniel. Neither is he a prehistoric hero like Enoch, Methuselah or Noah. He is rather, the word made flesh; the very Son of God. 

And yet, Jesus lived in our very familiar world of commerce, taxes and war. He encountered as many fools and as many wise people as we do today. He dealt with complexities, chicanery and stress as we do. Like you and me, he had many friends and some enemies; while most people ignored him as they went about their business. Only some of his family believed in him; others were troublesome meddlers. (Doesn't that sound too familiar?) We can even locate precisely where Jesus lived and when. 

Despite his familiar features as just another human being among the billions who have lived and died on this planet, Jesus announces, “I am the bread of life.”

So long as we are human he will hold out his promise of food and drink for the hungry and thirsty, if only we believe in him. 

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me
not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.

Among Catholics, despite all the changes since the Second Vatican Council – and there are many – the Eucharist remains our single most important ceremony. In fact, in the popular mind, it has grown more important. Since 1965 many public devotions to Mary and the saints disappeared, replaced by evening and impromptu Masses. There were days in the 1970’s when every committee and sub-committee in the parish wanted to begin with the celebration of the Mass!

From what I hear lately, the word spiritual -- as in spiritual communion or spiritual relationship with Jesus -- is rapidly disappearing into nonsense. It means nothing and costs nothing; it's what former Christians claim when they lose the faith. Meanwhile the ritual of eating real bread and drinking real wine grows more important. When we consider the cost of discipleship and the demands of membership, we need something to sink our teeth into and Eucharist gives us that.

The practice of the Eucharist is anchored in the signs of Saint John’s Gospel. Jesus did not perform the signs to be seen by a single generation of people and then recorded among legends of the prehistoric past. Rather, they are living and effective signs, like the word of God, as vital today as they were in the first century A.D. The Lord is as present in the Eucharist today as he was to his disciples in Jerusalem; and the surest sign of that is the Eucharist. 

The controversy seems to be around the question, “How intensely present is the Lord in this sacrament? “ Or perhaps, “Which is more real, spiritual or physical presence?” Catholic liturgy celebrates his Real Presence. Even if the priest and the congregation are inattentive and unworthy – a situation not  entirely hypothetical – God is truly and fully present. Just because the invited guests didn’t show up doesn’t mean the dinner was not prepared. In the Eucharist we see God’s self-emptying gift, both adorable and dreadful; adorable, because it is so beautiful; dreadful, for we stand judged before it. Grace is measured by God’s infinite goodness and not by our reluctance.

In today's gospel Jesus demonstrates impatience with the disciples who want earthly food from him. They saw the miracle but missed the sign:
Do not work for food that perishesbut for the food that endures for eternal life,which the Son of Man will give you.
Tomorrow we will hear the crowd asking, Lord give us this food always!

Third Sunday of Easter

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled."
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

The scriptures often tell us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This reflects an ancient belief that knowledge and understanding come not from experimentation and discovery but from God.  The grasp of both ordinary things and deep mysteries are not given to the clever by their birth; nor to the industrious by their studies. Knowledge is a gift freely given and freely shared.
This is why, during the middle ages, doctors and teachers could not charge for their services. If God had given them the gift of wisdom for the benefit of others, how could they dun their customers? Scholars lived off the donations of their students and the charity of wealthy benefactors until modern times.
Saint Luke tells us Jesus opened the minds of his disciples to understand the scriptures. Until then they could not see what they now saw clearly. Since that time the theological study of typology has searched for every hint and subtle cue in the Old Testament that might point to the coming of the Christ. We would not recognize Jesus as the New Adam or the Son of David or a priest in the line of Melchizedech except for the Holy Spirit which opens our minds.
Today, when we expect knowledge through scientific methods of research , the church reminds us you  cannot know Jesus without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Bibles can be distributed three feet deep over the entire earth but without the Spirit which opens minds and hearts no one will understand a word of it. 
I recently watched a deluded Veteran, suffering from mental illness and his desperate attempts to find peace through chemistry, searching the scriptures, the Koran, Vedic texts and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. He told me of the holographic universe, out of body experiences and extra-terrestrial aliens. He was trying to piece together a religion to make sense of his suffering. I pray the Holy Spirit will seep through the fissures of his broken heart and help him find what he cannot imagine.

Mass and The Liturgy of the Hours, two of the great privileges of our Catholic tradition, daily opens my mind to the presence of Jesus in “the law, the prophets and the psalms.” These daily pleasures are
More to be desired … than gold,
   even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
   and drippings of the honeycomb.

Saturday of the Second Week of Easter

When they had rowed about three or four milesthey saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, "It is I. Do not be afraid."

As we enter John 6 we have reason to be afraid, for Jesus is leading us onto a tempestuous sea. Many of his fondest disciples will give up on him; he is not what they expected; and, though they feel keen disappointment, they’ll cut their losses and go back to the old, predictable and familiar.

Even some scripture scholars – the self-appointed elect – of our time have given up on Jesus as they described him as a reformer of the old religion, of Judaism. In fact, as the Catholic Church has always insisted, he started a new religion built upon the ancient traditions of Abraham, Moses and David. This Church will carry with us many beloved traditions, especially the psalms, prayers and stories. We’ll retain many of the old rituals: burning incense, wearing ashes, beating one’s breast, prostrations, and so forth. We’ll keep images like the lamb, the bride and groom; and many of the Old Covenant (Testament) books.

But make no mistake. This is a new religion with an entirely new priesthood founded upon the line of Melchizedek, and not Levi. That priest will be Jesus. He will seat us at his table and feed us an entirely new food and drink. No longer bread and wine, or sheep and bitter herbs; we will eat his body and drink his blood.

Occasionally people try to start new Christian religions, saying the Apostles got it wrong. They suppose Jesus intended things he never meant, and meant things he never said. They attempt to tell a gospel Jesus never spoke. Saint Paul warned us about such foolishness when he said,
But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!
 Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1: 8-10)
These attempts are nothing new to the Church; they have persisted from Saint Paul until today.

There will be storms of controversy, some of them truly daunting. I don’t think we would be a true church if we didn’t have to weather controversies. Because we live in the real world, we can never drop below or ascend above these tempests; we can only wait and keep the faith until they pass.

And through it all we will behold Jesus walking upon the troubled water and calling out to us,
 "It is I. Do not be afraid."

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

Now is the time!

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
"Gather the fragments left over,
so that nothing will be wasted."

The Roman collar is a lightning rod for all kinds of interesting responses; and, as I amble through the wards of the VA Hospital, I have to be prepared for anything. More often than not it attracts friendliness and affection. People are genuinely glad to see a priest, any priest, in the hospital. Catholics and Protestants alike say, “Hello, Father!” and I feel privileged to wear it.

But it also summons odd opinions about spirituality and religion. Healthier patients and visitors, meeting one they suppose is an expert in religion, are eager to bounce their notions off the solid wall of my training, perhaps to see if it leaves an impression. Sometimes, when my patience runs thin, hearing about out-of-body experiences, eastern mysticism, angelic apparitions, and holographic universes, I ask, “So how do you worship God?”

It doesn’t stop the conversation; it doesn’t even draw a response. It’s just a speed bump in the discussion, a signal to me that I have heard as much as I can stand and need to move on.

Today’s story about the feeding of five thousand in the wilderness leads us into the sixth chapter of Saint John. This revered text invites contemplation of the Eucharist and the question: How do I worship God?

I notice Jesus’ last command in the story: Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted. In any language and surely every culture, waste is a terrible thing. It is not reverent. Jesus instructs his disciples to show reverence to the excess food.

We could suppose if he performed this miracle once he could do it repeatedly. We don’t have to worry about waste anymore! He will always give us excess amounts of food and drink! With him we can march into the world leaving a trail of debris wherever we go.

Waste has been the American way of life ever since European farmers started exploiting the eastern seaboard and moving west into the interior. We find their traces still in the conifer forests that now reclaim once fertile fields. Food, clothing, materiel, people: God will provide an overabundance! But Jesus says, “Gather the fragments….”

So should we reverently approach John 6.
Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining….

Our Eucharist recalls those sacred gestures with the Offertory, Eucharistic Prayer, Fraction and Distribution of Communion. These are familiar rites of Jewish meals and Christian banquets. We place the food on the table, thank God for it, share it among ourselves, and eat. No one has too much, no one needs more than enough:
This is what the Lord has commanded: “Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.” ’ The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. And Moses said to them, ‘Let no one leave any of it over until morning.’ Exodus 16:16-19

In our Catholic tradition, we always store the “excess” in our tabernacle, that sacred chamber inherited from Jewish worship, for it is the Body of Christ.

And so we’ll continue throughout the coming days, reflecting on the Eucharist and my peevish question, “So how do you worship God?” 

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.

The gospel of Saint John is like a hologram . If you look into a hologram you will see an amazing three-dimensional image. If you shatter it into many pieces, every piece, large and small, will contain the complete, three-dimensional image. Gazing into Saint John’s masterpiece you apprehend a multi-dimensional image of the Gospel. If you break it into small parts, reading it chapter by chapter -- or even verse by verse -- you see the same multi-dimensional gospel.

Today we come to the third and last reading of Jesus’ midnight conversation with Nicodemus. By this time, if this scene were presented on stage, Nicodemus would have faded into the background as the spotlight narrowed on Jesus’ face. The darkness and the hush over the theater focus our attention intensely upon him and his teaching.

In today’s hologram verses I notice the similar relationships of the Father, the Son, and the disciples of the Son. Jesus will teach, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” and “Love one another as I have loved you.” These differing relationships are laced together by the Holy Spirit and by his authoritative teaching. Hearing them we are swept into the mysterious web of the Holy Trinity.

Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
Clearly the disciple, hearing and accepting Jesus’ word, “certifies” as a “witness” God’s veracity. If you are credible, your word is credible. If your neighbor loves you because you have loved her, she will love your God. The “testimony” of your life certifies God’s trustworthiness.

For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
As we learned in John 1, The Jesus is Word of God made flesh. What else could Jesus say but the Word of God? His very being, every act and every word, demonstrates God’s presence. Likewise, our sacramental presence signifies the God who has set up his tent in our world.

He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
This statement delights my heart. Of course it finds echoes throughout our scriptures, liturgies and devotions; but I think of the Miraculous Medal and the rays of light that stream from the Woman’s fingers. Medieval story-tellers sang of the Holy Grail with its superabundant generosity. They saw the cup hovering over King Arthur’s Round Table, magically filling each cup with delightful wine and covering each plate with delicious food. In our time the media delight our eyes with the endless visions of the universe, from deep space to the deep oceans to the inner workings of the human body. There is no rationing of God’s spirit.

The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
The psalmist expressed wonder at God’s extraordinary gifts to the human race. The Christian sees his prayer fulfilled in The Man Jesus with even greater astonishment:

What is man that you are mindful of him,
and a son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little less than a god
crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
put all things at his feet:
All sheep and oxen,
even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
how awesome is your name through all the earth!
                Psalm 8

Please pray that this April 19 will pass quietly, without terrifying incident from American survivalists and their ilk.