Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/053112.cfm


How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the one bringing good news,
Announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”
Listen! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
For they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD’s return to Zion.

The passage above is from Isaiah 52:7-8, and not from today’s readings; but I think of it as we celebrate this feast of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth.
Two and half millennia after the victory at Marathon we still remember the joy of the runner who ran 26.2 miles to Athens and cried “Nike!” as he collapsed and died from the exertion. “We won!” If that good news was so important, how much more is the news Mary brought to Elizabeth.

How beautiful that little lady was, right down to her dirty little feet, to the eyes of her aging kinswoman. She announced peace to Zion, for Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah lived in Jerusalem (built on the hill called Zion.)
As she sang her Magnificat, she celebrated the victorious reign of our God-King, and the blessings God gives to the lowly, the hungry and the disenfranchised.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were the sentinels who raised the glad cry, together they shouted for joy as they welcomed Mary, bore first John the Baptist and learned of the birth of Jesus

Another ancient couple, Simeon and Anna, would welcome the Child to God’s city and temple:
For they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD’s return to Zion.

Simeon completed the song when he sang:
Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.

And that is a victory song we still sing on occasion:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He has trampled out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory, glory halleluiah. 

Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time



Since you have purified yourselves
by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love,
love one another intensely from a pure heart.

You have been born anew….

Exhortation, exhortation, exhortation! The three reasons the evangelists and authors of the New Testament write! If they also tell stories and teach doctrine, it is always in the service of exhorting the faithful to be courageous, keep the faith, and continue in the gospel way of life.
Those who read the Bible to glean theology or decipher signs of the end time miss the point altogether.
In today’s first reading, Peter reminds his congregation of the futile way of life in which they once lived. Recovering alcoholics welcome new members to their meetings because they need their memories refreshed about their former drinking, even as the new members need hope for future sobriety. Don’t forget how you lived when you had no hope! How inane, aimless and pathetic it was! How your life was little better than that of beasts! But even wild animals have more purpose than your life without Christ!
Remember the cost of your salvation – the Blood of Jesus Christ! When you attend the Mass and drink his Precious Blood your thirst should be desperate! How close you still are to slipping into mindless insanity.
And how precious is this Blood! More costly than all the money you’ll ever make; that’s for sure. More valuable than all the jewels you ever saw on Elizabeth Taylor or Queen Elizabeth!
He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,

Prophets and kings longed to see what you see but did not see it! (Luke 10:24)

For what have you been delivered?
Since you have purified yourselves
by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love,
love one another intensely from a pure heart.

The Blood of Jesus Christ has set you free to love your fellow Christians. Are there problems in your church? Is there someone who rankles you? Is there someone you despise? Are there people excluded from your community because they are poor, off-white, disreputable? Get over it!
Do you harbor a grudge, cherish a resentment, reel from an ancient trauma? Drink again the Love of God and ask for healing.

"All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like the flower of the field;
the grass withers,
and the flower wilts;
but the word of the Lord remains forever."

We haven’t time to dwell on old hurts. We must move on, move into the freedom and peace of God’s kingdom. 

Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time


http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052912.cfm

It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you…

You have to feel for the volunteer reader who steps up to do this first reading today. That first sentence from Saint Peter’s Epistle is a killer! The editor has broken it into sense lines but how do you get from one line to the next? And what is it saying?

A paraphrase: the ancient Hebrew prophets foresaw the coming of Christ, both his sufferings and his triumph. And, for your sake -- rather than their own or that of their contemporaries -- they made their testimony.

Modern scholarship might quibble with that teaching. We usually try to understand what the biblical author was saying to his contemporaries first; and then we extrapolate from that ancient interpretation, what it means for us. If, for instance, Amos railed against the “cows of Bashan” (Amos 4:1)for their luxurious life, we understand the prophet was not angry about grazing ruminants. He despised the wealthy wives who lived in indolent luxury while others starved. And then we reflect on the persistence of poverty three thousand years later; and, if we’re serious about the matter, income inequality as measured by the metrics of various standards.

But, as important as those reflections might be, they are not Saint Peter’s immediate concern. He wants his readers – and the Church wants us – to understand the extraordinary privilege we have of knowing Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Saint Luke, for instance, we hear this warning:
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.(Luke 10:13)

And in the same gospel we hear:
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more. Luke 12:48

This is not the “gospel of prosperity” that we hear even in many American churches, that teaches “We’re rich because we’re good; and they’re poor because they’re not.”

So the question might be asked, “What difference does my knowing Jesus Christ actually make?”

I like to put it this way, “You have to be different if you’re going to make a difference.” It’s not sufficient to try to change others to a more Christian way of life, whatever that might be. You actually have to be different.

In the Acts of the Apostles we see that the disciples of Jesus lived simply and in poverty so as to speak to the poor “a word that would rouse them.” (Isaiah 50:40) They prayed continually, going where the Holy Spirit sent them and shunning those places where the Holy Spirit prevented them. The leaders of that church insisted upon being “servants of the servants of God.” (Matthew 20:25-27) They never prospered by their ministry and were usually mistreated for their efforts. And, in fact, they welcomed mistreatment because it proved they were actually doing God’s will! Success is taboo! 

Clearly, as the United States becomes more and more secular, driven by misplaced compassion to abort the unborn, legitimize adultery and sanctify suicide, we must be strangers in a strange land (Exodus 2:22) and ambassadors of another government. As our saint will go on to say:
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. (I Peter 2:11)

Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time



Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.

This story is told of Pope Paul VI: On the Monday after Pentecost he went to the sacristy to vest for Mass. He was surprised to discover the sacristan had put out green vestments. When he was told he had agreed to changing the liturgical calendar and that we no longer celebrate the Octave of Pentecost, he burst into tears.
I wish we celebrated Pentecost as we do Christmas and Easter, with “a week of Sundays.” Perhaps, when the Church recalibrates the liturgy, she will reintroduce the Octave of Pentecost.
In the meanwhile, here we are again in the Ordinary Time of year. We’re fortunate to start this Eighth week with the beginning of the First Letter of Saint Peter. There is room for a world of commentary in this blessing.

Someone asked me recently, “Can you bless God?” I guess we do it all the time when we say, “Hallowed be thy name.” Saint Peter blesses God with the first words of his prayer, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ....  Blessing God is like holding a mirror to the sun. It may not seem like we’re throwing much light back at the sun, nor does the Sun actually notice the faint gleam of our mirror. We can't suppose blessing God does much good for God, but then that’s not our call. The child who shares his desert with his father or mother may not be actually feeding his parent, but he will certainly please them.

... who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope... Everything begins with God’s mercy. How often I hear people worrying about whether they’re good enough for salvation, or whether they have done enough, or earned the right, or avoided enough sin. But it’s not about you! It’s about God’s generous, superabundant mercy. He has given us a new birth to a living hope. Quit your worrying about what you’re doing and pay attention to what God is doing.
Your “living hope” is not just a huge desire that things might get better. It’s that impulse of the Holy Spirit that drives you off your couch and into the world where you and your church actually make things better.
It happens, of course, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... As Saint Paul said, if he is not risen then your faith and hope are worthless and our beloved dead are the deadest among the dead for they were buried under false pretenses. But we have seen his glory and our prayers daily reaffirm us in our convicted faith. If I feel discouraged as I enter the prayer, relaxing in God’s presence I rise refreshed and ready. Thus do we experience our own immediate resurrection...  
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
Ordinary time sets us on that long road once again. Refreshed by the Easter Season, which will still ring in our ears as we celebrate Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi, we tie our shoelaces, hoist our backpacks, hitch up our sagging britches and start walking toward 
...a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.

Pentecost Sunday




Jesus said to his disciples:
"He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."

In the Trinity of God there is no “mine;” the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit enjoy the intimacy of poverty. The Father has given himself entirely to the Son, and the Son to the Father. Their love is the roiling Spirit between them and poured with abandon upon us. It is superabundant, without stint or measure:
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6:38

Pentecost celebrates God’s Spirit poured upon the Church, and the “flood” of Jesus’ disciples into the street. They could not be contained within the walls of any house. They were so excited some passersby accused them of drunkenness. The unfamiliar taste of God in their mouths threw the disciples into a kind of intoxication and their joy knew no bounds.
Saint Catherine wrote: “And I went up the hill and asked the Lord what to do. And the Lord answered me, “Overflow like pure water, smooth and still, and reflect me in yourself.” (Poetry Magazine, May 2012)
Today’s talk of “spirituality” always leaves me suspicious and one thing I suspect about it is cop out. We are called to be the physical presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in this world, and not simply a spiritual presence. Whatever “spiritual” seems to mean today, it doesn’t seem to mean actual presence, real presence, or anything that might make a difference. It’s vague and insubstantial like the receptionist's “Have a nice day!” or the waiter’s “Enjoy!” It’s indifferent and unreliable; it’s the lover’s promise to get married “one of these day, but not today.”

When Jesus pours his Spirit upon us we step out and take his substantial place in this world. We are organized, prepared and motivated. We reflect him and show him and shine his happy light in the darkness of our world. This light floods systems and structures, the personal and the political. It is invariably controversial. The well-intentioned welcome it and the wicked despise it.

During this election year many wish the Church would just settle down and let the nation choose its own reckless course. That’s not in our genetic makeup. We will be heard by both major parties. Some politicians and blocs will curry our vote; others will write it off; none can ignore it. What is certain is that neither party represents the Holy Spirit, despite their claims of moral righteousness; God is not in their genetic makeup. 

On this Pentecost Sunday of 2012 we pray that we will “Overflow like pure water, smooth and still, and reflect me in yourself.”

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter



It is this disciple who testifies to these things
and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books
that would be written.

Saint John’s first ending of the gospel was similar to the above:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Chapter 21 was added by a later writer and is considered canonical; that is, authentically scripture. The hyperbole – that the whole world might not contain all the stories of Jesus –- may be endearing but not something Saint John would have written. But poetic souls will always wax eloquent about the works of God:  
Rabbi Eliezer wrote: “If all the seas were ink, all the reeds were quills, heaven and earth were scrolls, and every person a scribe, they could still never write down what I learned from the Torah.”
Nevertheless, I prefer Saint John's first ending, “…that you may come to believe."


Story tellers since the unknown author of Chapter 21 to today’s novelist (Dan Brown, Anne Rice, et alii) have always wanted to fill in the missing gaps in the story of Jesus. I also plead guilty to the crime. Many nations tell stories of the child Jesus growing up in their land but everyone knows he grew up in Ireland.


Some far-left and far-right theologians also attempt to rewrite the scriptures, adding what Jesus should have said about women priests, gay rights and so forth. Fortunately the Holy Spirit directed us to limit the Bible to 72 books, the gospels to four, and to add nothing that was not written during the “apostolic age”. There is more than enough material there to guide the Church until Jesus’ second coming.


We know his testimony is true. I have often reflected on the importance of our Apostolic Tradition; it is good also to reflect on the beauty, wisdom and healing power of the Gospels, and John in particular. The second century Church Father Origen said of the Fourth Gospel, “A mouse could wade across it; an elephant could drown in it.”

In some ways John reads like the morning newspaper. Its stories of the woman at the well, the healing of the blind and lame men and the raising of Lazarus seem simple and straightforward – until you reflect on them and hear their resonances. They grab our curiosity, stagger us in wonder and hurl us into prayer. 


Jesus’ confidence is divine even as his charm appeals to our human nature. In the text the character of Jesus instructs both disciples and opponents – who are often only straw men created to illustrate a point – even as the Son of God leads you and me into contemplation. If the one dimensional disciples on the page cannot imagine the sacramental depth of his teachings, it yawns before us like a bottomless canyon.

As we finish the Lent/Easter Season tomorrow, I feel grateful for John and his presence throughout these ninety days. I look forward to swimming in the sea of his gospel again as Lent returns next February 13. 

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter



Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go."

The psalmist says the fortunate man will see seventy years, “or eighty if he is strong.” Old age was not unheard of in biblical times, but it was unusual. They never used the expression “life expectancy” but it wasn’t much more than forty years. Nestor, the old man of Homer's Iliad, was still young enough to wield sword and shield on the Trojan plain, and to kick around the younger Greeks. The ancient world had ancient people, but not many.

When Jesus addressed Peter about his growing old the Evangelist supposed he was speaking of martyrdom; “He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” Only since the mid-twentieth century have we begun to address the wide-spread phenomenon of old age, and to shape spirituality for our latter years.

In my Franciscan community we often speak of such matters: When does a friar retire, if ever? When does he hand in his car keys? Can we provide for him in the friary or must we place him in a nursing home?  Who should tell him his habits have become slovenly? Will he want to study, travel, or engage with other seniors? Can he find something useful to do? Is it okay if he sleeps for hours in front of the television and wanders the house all night? Every individual is different; there are no standard answers, and even the questions vary from one individual to another. It seems impossible to develop a “policy for aging friars.”

If Jesus’ words to Peter prepared him for martyrdom, they can prepare us also for witnessing in our latter years, which is what martyrdom means. I don’t look forward to moving to a nursing home; I cannot imagine myself being so dependent or needy; but if that’s where I am sent I hope I will go with the same willingness that I have brought to every other assignment.

Witness is the first and the last thing Jesus asked of his disciples. You’ll recall that Simon Peter was the third disciple to follow the Lord, according to the Gospel of Saint John. He asked the first two, “What are you looking for?” They replied, “Rabbi, where do you live?” and he answered, “Come and see.” Come and witness. 

To witness is both to see and to give testimony about what has been seen. I often think of the old man Eleazar, who would not give scandal to the young of his Jewish community by pretending to eat pork. He chose to die a painful martyr’s death, and thus to set an example for the young. (2 Maccabees 6:18ff)

Witness is not work; the witness never retires. We witness by everything we do, say and think. It is there in our feelings, attitudes and decisions. We cannot try to give witness to Christ. Neither do we try to be good or try to do the right thing. Rather, we give witness by acting out our true nature, that nature which has been ontologically changed by Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation and our entire way of life. 

Even when three of you drive to the nursing home and two return without you – when someone else dresses you and leads you where you do not want to go – your peaceful spirit will testify the love of God. He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052412.cfm

An alluring tree displays
its trophies.
I pray not only for these,
but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
so that they may all be one,
as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
that the world may believe that you sent me
.

Today’s passage from the Priestly Prayer of Jesus brings us to the end of his Farewell Discourse. Saint John then tells us, When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley….”

In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul celebrated this mystery -- “that all may be one” -- with this song:
For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for “he subjected everything under his feet.” But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

We do not know and probably cannot imagine what God’s being All in All might mean, but we believe it will be beautiful. Jesus’ prayer will be heard and answered and fulfilled. It is impossible that the consecration of the Only Begotten Son of God can be frustrated. Jesus encourages us to pray with all confidence; he insists that our prayers too will be heard.

This is why we drink from the well of scripture each day, to be refreshed in the promise – one day at a time.





Thank you God 
for 37 years of priesthood!

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter



Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.

With these words Jesus consecrates himself and his apostles. Tomorrow we will hear his blessing for us, “those who will believe in me through their word...

The word consecrates invites our meditation. We hear it used during Jesus’ “Priestly Prayer,” which occurs within his “Farewell Discourse” of Saint John’s Gospel. Jesus’ consecration of himself and his disciples appears as a final act of preparation before his passion. Consecration (literally, make holy) is the core of his Last Supper and our Eucharist.

In the context of these moments before his passion, I think of primitive warriors as they prepare for combat. I’ve not witnessed such rituals but I understand they sing and dance and work themselves into a fever of ready anticipation. There may be screams, shrieks and blood-letting. In the rush of adrenalin residual fears are forgotten; memories of loved ones and domestic duties are set aside. There is nothing to be done but fight and kill and, perhaps, survive; but the warrior prefers death to dishonor. His entire attention is focused on the coming battle. He has no future.

Facing crucifixion and death, Jesus consecrates himself for us “so that they also may be consecrated in truth.” From this moment on his entire attention is focused on God his Father, whose name is Truth. If he has a future, it lies beyond his Crucifixion. We might rightly suppose Jesus’ attention was always on God the Father, but this passage reminds us of the importance and intensity of his Passion.

It was not an accident; it was not an unfortunate incident that aborted this promising young man’s life. Jesus’ crucifixion is the culmination, the consummation of his life. (Older Catholics will recall the Douay-Rheims translation of John 19:30, “It is consummated!”)

During the 19th century some optimistic Christian theologians thought of Jesus as a great teacher. They understood his religion as founded on great principles, but they did not think his crucifixion was necessary. They believed that good ideas and solid education would make the world safe and pleasant. Ending that period, scripture scholars described more accurately the gospels as “passion narratives with long introductions.” His crucifixion was absolutely necessary to the fulfillment of Jesus’ mission.

Finally, in this 17th chapter of John, he has consecrated us in truth. Though few of us are called to martyrdom, all of us are called to live in the Truth. Not even tomorrow is more important.


Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter



Now this is eternal life,
that they should know you, the only
true God,
and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.


Among the many mysteries of our faith are the names of what God has promised to us. Is it heaven, eternal life, salvation, justification, vindication, meaning, purpose, love, healing, wholeness or something else altogether? How about “they should know you, the only true God and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ?”

Wisdom and knowledge are also among the promises. Eros is usually described as a passionate desire for sensual love, but we also have an erotic desire for knowledge. We would not be fully human if we did not want to know more. We have built enormous schools and a worldwide infrastructure of sciences in the pursuit of knowledge. In fact we want to know more than the human mind can comprehend. We want to know God!

When we speak of faith, we speak of revelation. The Lord reveals himself to us, beginning especially with Abraham and continuing throughout “Revelation History;” through Moses, David, the Prophets, John the Baptist and Jesus. But, as brilliant as our sciences are, even our theological science, we could not know God if God did not speak directly to us.

God wants to be known, and that why we have this erotic desire for God. Knowledge of God is not a simple “how-dee-do!” It is intensely personal, a two-edged sword cutting between soul and marrow, which opens both the individual and the community to deep transformation.

In the knowledge of God I come to know myself, and I recognize that much of what I thought was myself was sinful nonsense. In the wisdom of my 63 years I think of my 33 year old self and think, “How could I have been so stupid?” And, I suspect I’ll think the same of my 63 year old self if I live to 93! But I will be the same person, familiar, beautiful, sinful and devout.

Likewise, in 2012 I wonder how our Founding Fathers could abide slavery. It made no sense whatsoever, by their own standards! But what will our descendents a century from now find morally incomprehensible in us?

To know God is to know oneself better not because I am God but because God is the Light in whom I find myself.
 
Yet I am more fascinated by the light, mysterious, ineffable, beautiful, merciful and good. As Saint Francis said so often, “You are good, all good, supreme good!” To know God is our delight; it is indeed eternal life

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter



Because of this we believe that you came from God."
Jesus answered them, "Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived

when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.

The stoic is one who believes, because he can do something once, he can do it all the time. But human beings are not like that. Like the Earth with its rotations of day and night, summer-fall-winter-spring, we are cyclic creatures. We run hot and cold, enthusiastic and bored, eager and weary. We grow stronger from our earliest years and weaker with advancing years. We are creatures of Earth.
Jesus knew that very well. He saw his disciples wax with enthusiasm and wane with discouragement. He could boldly charge with them toward Jerusalem and loiter on the road with their fearfulness.
In today’s gospel, toward the end of his prolonged Farewell Address, the disciples declare, “We believe that you came from God!”
Great! Now you’ve got it.
But you’ll lose it again. Your faith will be shadowed with doubt; your confidence, with fear.
That’s okay. Time and again, and again and time, we’ve got to learn that our faith is not in ourselves or about ourselves. It’s about God.
The Last Supper was not the end of Jesus’ story, as the disciples would soon realize. It was only another beginning. It was preparation for what they were about to see, which would be a blinding demonstration of a man’s absolute love of God; and God’s love for that particular man.
Sometimes a husband and wife will hug and kiss one another and seem to forget the world around them. That’s wonderful; it’s sublimely beautiful; although their toddlers are hugging at their legs and trying to squirm between them.
“What about me?” the children are crying.

Don’t worry, children. Your day will come.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world."


The crucifixion is like that couple's affectionate embrace. Though it is incomprehensible to us, and profoundly confusing, it is Jesus' embrace of God. His head fallen to his chest, his outstretched arms and hanged body show his total abandonment to God. 

Saint Mark’s Gospel reveals that brilliance in the darkest possible moment:
And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”*which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus’ cry of despair completes the cycle for him. He has abandoned himself; his hope and strength are exhausted. There is no trace of courage or foreknowledge in him. Now God his Father will act in total darkness to deliver him from the grave and show him to the world as Savior, Messiah and Lord.

Seeing Jesus’ faith and his Father’s fidelity we can allow ourselves the earthly cycles of hope and despair, confidence and fear. We can allow God to show us his love for us when we have lost hope in ourselves.